SOCHI, Russia — Mike Babcock said he’d sleep on any changes for Team Canada. Today, a few were announced, with defenseman Dan Hamhuis and forward Patrick Sharp coming out of the lineup for tonight’s game versus Austria, replaced by defenseman P.K. Subban and forward Matt Duchene.
Babcock had already indicated that Subban and Duchene would play tonight. Similarly, we knew that Roberto Luongo would start in goal after Carey Price got the nod versus Norway.
That Hamhuis will be scratched is no real surprise either; the steady 31-year-old played 9:52 in Thursday’ 3-1 victory, the least of the seven defensemen.
Sharp’s removal is a bit more interesting, as many thought it could be Martin St. Louis, the late injury replacement for Steven Stamkos.
But TSN’s Ryan Rishaug makes a good point here:
Canada’s top power-play unit features point men Shea Weber and Drew Doughty.
We’ll have to wait and see if Babcock alters his line combinations in a meaningful way. Duchene could simply step in for Sharp with Jonathan Toews and Rick Nash, or St. Louis could replace Sharp on that line with Duchene becoming the 13th forward, or there could be more significant changes all around.
If there’s one line that’s safe, it may be the fourth, comprised of John Tavares, Jamie Benn and Patrice Bergeron.
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It wouldn’t be a regular season game without a Columbus Blue Jackets injury, right?
OK, the Blue Jackets hope that 2015-16 looks different from the medically challenged mess of last season, but at least one player is banged up tonight.
Alexander Wennberg suffered an upper-body injury and won’t return on Friday, as the team noted.
There’s no word yet regarding how serious the issue might be. It looks like he might have suffered an injury thanks to a Chris Kreider check:
Naturally, the Blue Jackets must hope that this doesn’t begin another trend.
In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.
The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.
At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.
As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.
The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.
All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.