SOCHI, Russia — Mike Babcock had a plan, and he’s sticking with it.
Hence, the decision by Team Canada’s head coach to start Carey Price over Roberto Luongo tonight versus Finland in his team’s final test of the preliminary round. If Price plays well, the net should be his for the win-or-go-home games.
But if he doesn’t?
“At the Olympic Games, you’re allowed one change,” said Babcock.
Babcock, of course, used his one change four years ago in Vancouver, where he turned to Luongo for the elimination games after Martin Brodeur lost to the United States in the preliminary round.
Arguments could be made for both Price and Luongo — who beat minnows Norway and Austria, respectively, in Canada’s first two games here in Sochi — to get the nod going forward. The former was in better form coming into the Games, but the latter has more big-game experience, including a victory in the 2010 gold-medal game.
For Price, assuming he doesn’t lose the job versus the Finns, the next week will be the biggest of his career. Even in the hockey-mad city of Montreal, he hasn’t faced the pressure of playing the sport’s most important position, against the world’s best players, and with a demanding country’s hopes on the line.