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Olympic men's hockey preview

Details, details

A day after saying not much attention should be paid to Canada's line combinations at its first practice, coach Mike Babcock of the Red Wings used the same combinations for the second practice Tuesday. That means the extra players again were the Lightning's Marty St. Louis (right) and the Avalanche's Matt Duchene at forward, and the Canucks' Dan Hamhuis and the Canadiens' P.K. Subban on defense. To put it another way, one of the extras led the NHL in scoring last season (St. Louis) and another won the Norris Trophy as top defenseman (Subban). Canada opens Thursday vs. Norway. "If I don't dress, I don't dress," St. Louis said after the first practice. "I don't control that. I'm going to control what I do on the ice. My goal is to be there in the last game."

A face only a grandmother could loathe

If Sweden comes away with a medal, one player who won't be thanking his family is Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom. His 84-year-old grandmother, Britt, told the Swedish newspaper Ostersund-Posten her grandson "will make a fool of himself" in the tournament. "He has played so poorly. For a long time," she says of Nicklas, who has 56 points (11 goals) this season in Washington. Britt isn't a fan of the rest of the Swedish team, either: "On the whole, they've got no game." Swedish teammate Daniel Sedin of the Canucks came to Nicklas' defense. "(Grandma) need not be worried. It's fun to play with Nicklas," he told the newspaper Sportbladet. Not wanting to make his family gatherings any more awkward, Nicklas said he wouldn't comment on his gram. "I stay away from those. … Sorry."

Solidarity, for now

The entire Russian team — including coaches and federation head/goalie great Vladislav Tretiak — showed up at a news conference attended by more than 400 people Tuesday. It wanted to show solidarity two days before starting a competition that will be considered a failure if it doesn't win gold. "We know that we enjoy a lot of support here, but we also know that we have a lot of responsibility, a lot to answer for," Tretiak said. Russia has not won gold since 1992, when the Unified Team won shortly after the end of the Soviet Union. Its underwhelming efforts in recent international events have brought criticism that players from the NHL and the Russia-based KHL have had trouble forming a cohesive team. The previous day, Russian and Capitals star Alex Ovechkin (left) was asked to describe what a gold medal might mean to Russia. "(It) will cost $50 billion, probably," he said, grinning, quoting the amount that the government spent on the Games.

Number of the day

5 Players in the 12-team competition older than 40: the Ducks' Teemu Selanne, 43, of Finland; former NHL player Petr Nedved, 42, and the Devils' Jaromir Jagr, 42 on Saturday, of the Czech Republic; the Red Wings' Daniel Alfredsson, 41, of Sweden; and former NHLer Sandis Ozolinsh, 41, of Latvia. Selanne will tie an Olympic hockey record by playing in his sixth tourney when he faces Austria on Thursday.

Coy Bylsma

U.S. coach Dan Bylsma of the Penguins hinted he has decided who will start in goal in the opener against Slovakia on Thursday.

He said he had narrowed his options from three to two: the Sabres' Ryan Miller, the MVP of the 2010 tournament for the silver medalists, and the Kings' Jonathan Quick.

"I'm not going to tell you if I want to see both of them play or not," Bylsma said.

The odd man out is the Red Wings' Jimmy Howard.

Compiled from Times wires,

Olympic men's hockey preview 02/11/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 10:28pm]
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