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.
GM says Blue Jackets are ‘off the rails’ right now
Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Post-Dispatch on Tuesday.
“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.
Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?
Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”
Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.
The Post-Dispatch goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.
Next four games: Three out of four at home Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.
As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.
For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.
He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.
Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).
That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out
This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:
With Ovechkin out, Caps lines look like this: