With the NHL season pretty much reaching its halfway point (most teams have played 38 games prior to tonight's matchups), and the World Juniors just around the corner, it seemed an appropriate time to revisit a post I made before the season started regarding my thoughts on possible selections for Team Canada in the upcoming winter Olympics.
In my last article, http://www.silversevensens.com/2013/8/27/4663430/the-slightly-off-topic-and-premature-team-canada-selection-thread , I laid out my reasoning for selecting certain players, so rather than regurgitate it all, I'll summarize things by stating that I strongly believe in two key points:
a) Linemates should be selected to the team in order to reduce the time needed to develop team chemistry.
b) Players should (hopefully) be playing in their natural position. Many centres, but not many wingers, were invited to the initial training camp- therefore I feel some players should be left off despite their talent level, as they would not likely be playing their natural position.
In a short, high pressure tournament, the less time that players have to spend feeling each other out the better, as they can simply focus on playing their own game.
Also, for the sake of simplifying the selection process, I've simply assumed that some players who are currently injured are out of the picture, regardless of the timeframe predicted for their return. Hopefully upon the third and final article I write before the official team selection takes place, they will have gotten healthy and worked themselves back into it (for example, Steven Stamkos, Corey Crawford, and as of yesterday, Roberto Luongo).
Without further ado, here's my updated selections, with some notes to follow:
Forward Lineup (LW/C/RW)
Extra: J. Thornton
Notes on the team selected above:
- With the exception of Tavares and Subban (Tavares being a natural centre, and Subban normally playing on the right side rather than the left side), all of the players above have experience playing in their slotted positions, and 3 of the 4 lines have 2 current linemates as the core .
- In my eyes, Tavares has played well enough this year to warrant being chosen over my initial winger selections of Eric Staal and Rick Nash, who had won gold last time around.
- In addition, another two players who played their way onto the team are defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and P.K. Subban. Playing with Pietrangelo on St. Louis, Bouwmeester has improved his game and they are currently one of the best defensive pairings in the league. I'm pained to admit I actually completely overlooked the St. Louis pairing the last time around. Also, while I initially didn't have Subban included due to his tendency to take stupid penalties, Kris Letang has been hurt often enough and Shea Weber does not look the same without Ryan Suter, that I thought he deserved a shot.
- Stamkos being hurt and not in this lineup almost brings a tear to the eye. Almost.
- Nobody has been talking about Mike Richards this season, but I continue to believe that placing him on a line with Sharp and Toews could prove to be extremely effective at both ends of the ice.
- Probably the most glaring omissions for some people in the forwards are Alex Steen, Patrick Marleau, and Matt Duchene. Here are my reasons. Steen is having a fine season, 2nd overall in goals scored and 10th overall in league scoring: however, this is his first truly successful season, and he has not proven himself either in the playoffs or on the world stage. Therefore I left him off. Marleau has a tendency to disappear in big games when he's needed most, so I'm hesitant to pick him. Matt Duchene has played well this season and is a major part of the reason Colorado is playing well, but again like Steen he has not yet proven himself in any high pressure situations or played outside of his normal position (well as far as I know, correct me if I'm wrong!).
- Many people believe that Kunitz doesn't deserve to be on the team, because his stats are inflated by Crosby, and there are more talented options out there. While both of these opinions may be true, the bottom line is he's playing very well with Crosby, and as far as I'm concerned, if it ain't broke, don't break it!
- I can't believe how much the media has disrespected Martin St. Louis. He should be a guaranteed lock as one of the few wingers invited to camp (oh, and the fact that he won the Art Ross trophy last year), but he's still a "maybe" to some so-called "experts." Ridiculous.
- I'm sad none of our Sens are involved on my list, but if Turris and MacArthur keep their current level of play up, they may get consideration in the future!
- I hope both Luongo and Crawford get healthy soon- luckily Price has played well enough to worry me less about our goalie situation than I was at the start of the year.
Let me know what you all think- there have been some changes since the start of the season, so I'm curious what additional changes will come next time around. Until then, happy holidays and a happy new year to everyone here at Silver Seven!