When it comes to Team Canada in international tournaments, their lines really are something like 1A, 1B, 1C and so forth.
So maybe it shouldn't be seen as a demotion that Steven Stamkos got nudged down to the third line on Tuesday, and stayed there Wednesday. After slotting onto Ryan Getzlaf’s right side, Stamkos is now Jonathan Toews’ right wing. Should we be complaining about this? Probably not. That Toews is pretty good at the hockey, we hear. And Stamkos’ new line, with Logan Couture on the left, seems to have some chemistry, which is crucial in a short tournament like this.
As practice continues, really like the Stamkos-Toews-Couture line, so much talent on this Canadian team #WCH2016— Chris Crawford (@ChrisCrawford07) September 7, 2016
91 + 87 = all the one-timers
A nugget that came out of Wednesday’s practice is the fact that Stamkos and Sidney Crosby worked on Stamkos’ one-timers.
Crosby feeding Stamkos for one timers over and over again after practice. pic.twitter.com/Nykuy054yb— Steve Lloyd (@TSNSteveLloyd) September 7, 2016
On the top power play unit, Stamkos and Drew Doughty have been on the points, along with Ryan Getzlaf, Tavares and Crosby... just imagining Crosby passing to Stamkos for the one-timer is a WEE BIT EXCITING I’M SO EXCITED CAN YOU TELL SORRY NOT SORRY.
Team Canada also worked on their 5-on-3s, which is just plain scary.
Canada 5-on-3 PP units at practice today:— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) September 7, 2016
Stamkos obviously excited
If you’ve read all the stories... now you can watch him discuss it.
Stamkos sat down with Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet in an 11-minute interview. Among the highlights:
- Stamkos says there’s been "extra motivation and excitement for this tournament, obviously being in Toronto too."
- He remembers the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics the most, which had his GM, Steve Yzerman, on the gold medal Canadian team.
- He admits to the distraction of the contract over the last season.
- Stamkos has been off blood thinners "for a couple weeks now."
- Listening is helpful. Stamkos is a good listener.
Also, if you haven't already, read Friedman's excellent story on the 23 minutes that shook the hockey world.
Bishop still in the running as Team USA’s starting goalie
It may be awhile before John Tortorella names a starting goaltender for Team USA with Ben Bishop, Jonathan Quick and Cory Schneider all more than capable of taking the reins.
According to Kevin Allen of USA Today, Tortorella’s goal is to name his starter and backup goalies by the third exhibition game.
Allen went on to write:
How do you win the job in four practices and two games? "You just have to push yourself to a high level very early on," Schneider said. "It’s up to the coaches, but you will make it harder or easier, depending upon how you play."
Tortorella acknowledges there’s not enough time to make a "true determination" about who should have the job.
However, there’s no question that goaltending is one of the team’s primary strengths. "It’s going to allow us to play really aggressively and take some chances," Tortorella said. "If anyone of those guys goes in net, we feel if we give up something we have a real good chance of stopping the puck."
Among goalies, Bishop is one of the best puckhandlers in the league (he may actually be better than some skaters), so his ability to cleanly get the puck out of the zone may give him the slight edge.
However, Quick is the proven winner. Bishop has little international experience (but bear in mind that the World Cup is on NHL ice). Schneider may push for the job, but I’m going to guess it’ll be Quick as the starter with Bishop backing him up... and taking over if Quick at any point falters.
Team USA’s first exhibition game is Friday against Team Canada.
Stralman on Sweden’s PP, but no Hedman
Presenting: Another point to that apparent "Victor Hedman still has something to prove" theme.
When Team Sweden unveiled their power play lines, Hedman was nowhere to be found. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Erik Karlsson were the defenseman on the top unit, with Anton Stralman on the second unit that features four forwards and Stralman.
It just speaks volumes to Sweden’s blueline. No team would pass on Hedman, but it’s hard not to when you’ve already got both Ekman-Larsson and Karlsson.
Drouin sees time on special teams
Team North America has been keeping their lines intact, which means the top line of Jonathan Drouin, Connor McDavid and Mark Scheifele are still together, making us wonder about Drouin and his old junior teammate Nathan MacKinnon.
But when asked about how they feel about being teammates again, neither of them responded in this funny "interview."
Drouin participating in Wednesday’s practice is encouraging, as he was "crushed" by an open bench door during practice the day before.
Drouin says he's fine. Door was left open, took the hit. Got him in the chest. Good to go. #TSN690— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) September 6, 2016
For some reason, there hasn’t much news out of Team Czech Republic. Or we’ve been bad at finding them. Here’s one of our first looks at Ondrej Palat, as he and the team head to Russia.