Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 02/21/14 at 06:02 AM ET
According to the Canadian Press, Team Canada won't make any personnel changes ahead of today's showdown with Team USA (12 PM EST, NBCSN/CBC) save bringing Matt Duchene into the lineup to substitute for the injured John Tavares:
Coach Mike Babcock was fired up not to have to make any changes.
"I'm pumped," Babcock said. "We're starting to look like a team and be like a team and you're organized like a team and you feel comfortable because you're not running around trying to do a million things. It's great."
Duchene is back in after playing in two of Canada's first four games. Playing centre on the fourth line is part of the reason he's not worried about shaking some rust off.
"I'm back at my natural position, which is going to be nice," Duchene said. "And I played a lot of games on the big ice last year at centre so I know kind of what to expect in terms of that part of it as opposed to maybe playing on the wing."
Babcock sounded...Well, he sounded Babcockian in stating that the morning skate yielded no insights into his team's readiness to play...
"I can't get a feel in the morning skate in Detroit, either," he said. "Sometimes I think we're the ('76) Canadiens and the puck's going all over and then we don't do anything and sometimes I think our hands look like feet and we get out there and we play great. Now we got to go out, we got a good plan, we got good people, now we got to go out and execute."
A week ago, when they were sitting with a 1-2 record and looking up at the field in the Olympic curling tournament, Brad Jacobs and his teammates drew some inspirational words from someone who knows a thing or two about winning medals.
“When we were 1-2 we talked to Mike Babcock,” Jacobs said. “And he said ‘You’re 1-2, that doesn’t mean anything. It’s how you finish. Just go out there and execute.’ That’s exactly what we’ve done. It was nice to take his advice.”
Babcock, of course, is the men’s hockey coach who guided Canada to the gold medal in Vancouver and has his team in the semifinal again here in Sochi. He’s also won a Stanley Cup and coached Canada to a world championship.
The Jacobs team came into Sochi as Olympic rookies and got off to a rough start, perhaps feeling the pressure of wearing the Maple Leaf, perhaps just experiencing big-game jitters.
But since that conversation with Babcock, they’ve been lights out. Their seventh straight win on Wednesday propelled them into the gold-medal game on Friday against Great Britain.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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