James O'Brien

BOSTON, MA - JUNE 07:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins shakes hands with Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins after the Bruins defeated the Penguins 1-0 in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the TD Garden on June 7, 2013 in Boston, United States.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Looks like Canada is sticking with Crosby, Bergeron and Marchand line

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If you’ve even lightly followed hockey over the years, you’re probably aware that coaches shuffle their lines quite often.

Still, from the sound of things, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun and others believe that Mike Babcock will stick with the Team Canada line combination of Sidney Crosby and two Boston Bruins (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand).

Considering the star power available to Babcock, that might not seem like the sexiest combination, but sometimes it’s as much about chemistry, communication and cohesive styles.

Apparently this trio was something Babcock’s had in mind for months, and it’s no surprise to see the pairing of Crosby and Bergeron.

The two have been linked since as far back as 2005, and it seems symbolically fitting that a Hockey News story about Bergeron being more or less lucky to be there is a dead link. Bergeron is a nice scorer who also ranks as perhaps the absolute best two-way forward in the NHL.

Marchand, then, is the interesting addition, even considering his familiarity with Bergeron. His inclusion raises eyebrows even with those 37 goals from 2015-16.

“He earned his way on this team with the way he played last season,” Bergeron said, according to TSN. “He took a big step forward. He’s improved year to year, but last season he became truly an elite player in my mind.”

Bergeron and Babcock aren’t the only ones who can see why the talented-yet-pesky winger would be a good fit for such great linemates. Jonathan Toews played up Marchand’s all-around credentials, too, as NHL.com reports.

“He’s out there getting under guys’ skin, but he can make plays,” Toews said. “I played with him at the World Juniors a long time ago and I always knew he had the skill, the offense, but I didn’t know how smart he was, just positionally as well. I can see why he and [Bergeron] play so well together.”

Hey, let’s not kid ourselves either; sticking with Bergeron and Crosby at such a high level wouldn’t hurt Marchand in contract negotiations.

John Gibson is in for North America, but even he thinks Matt Murray is the guy

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 21:  John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks speaks with the media during a press availability on June 21, 2016 at the Encore Ballroom in Las Vegas, Nevada. The 2016 NHL Award Ceremony will by held on June 22 at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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With the 2016 World Cup tune-up winding down, plenty of teams have some goaltending decisions to make. It sounds like the situation is pretty much settled for North America, however.

John Gibson gets the nod against Team Europe during Sunday’s exhibition, yet Gibson himself said that Matt Murray is still the No. 1 guy, according to ESPN’s Craig Custance.

Team North America certainly seems interested in making sure Gibson isn’t rusty:

Both goalie options are interesting in their combination of promise (Murray’s Stanley Cup win, Gibson winning the Anaheim Ducks’ top job) with inexperience.

Murray only has 13 regular season games and the 21-game playoff run to his name, yet Gibson isn’t exactly a seasoned workhorse either. He’s only played in 66 regular season contests along with six playoff games.

In other words, this isn’t one of those situations where a goalie is firmly established as the veteran guy. So why not just let Murray’s championship run be the tiebreaker?

More on Murray being the “lead dog.”

Meanwhile, Thomas Greiss will start for Team Europe.

J.T. Miller isn’t playing for North America tonight, but he says he’s healthy

OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 14: J.T. Miller #10 of the New York Rangers looks on against the Ottawa Senators during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on November 14, 2015 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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J.T. Miller isn’t suiting up for Team America on Sunday, but New York Rangers fans can breathe easy. It looks like he’s just a healthy scratch.

Miller seemed shaken up after a shot hit his hand, yet ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that the Rangers forward insists that he’s OK.

A lot of people were concerned about Miller during the eventual 4-0 win for Team North America vs. Europe:

*scratches chin*

Jacob Trouba joins Miller as a healthy scratch while John Gibson slides into the net for Matt Murray (more on that later).

Based on the last game’s scratches, one would expect Dylan Larkin and Colton Parayko to play against Europe on Sunday.

As a reminder, Marian Hossa is back in the mix for Europe.

Predators confirm Mike Fisher as team’s seventh captain

fishercaptain
via Nashville Predators
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Earlier this week, a report surfaced that the Nashville Predators selected Mike Fisher as their new captain. The team confirmed as much on Thursday.

Fisher, 36, becomes the seventh captain in team history. Shea Weber leaves big shoes to fill after serving in this role from 2010-11 through 2015-16.

“It is the right choice, and there’s a lot of confidence when we made that choice that we got the right guy,” Peter Laviolette said. “After being around Mike and watching him, seeing how he handles the team, how he works every day and how he interacts with his players and coaches, we 100 percent got the right guy.”

Short-term fix?

Speaking of getting the right guy, the most interesting question may revolve around how long Fisher actually serves as Predators captain. His $4.4 million cap hit expires after the 2016-17 season, and at age 36, you have to wonder how much longer he’ll stick around.

(Maybe he’s keeping the seat warm while Nashville mulls over some nice choices in young players like P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg?)

Now, the Predators don’t seem concerned about Fisher’s longevity, at least on the record:

The Predators put together a nice montage to celebrate the decision:

Veteran presence on a fresh-faced team

Fisher first joined the Predators in 2010-11 after being traded from the Ottawa Senators. He’s played in 341 regular season games with Nashville along with 39 postseason contests.

Mike Ribeiro is the only member of the Predators roster who is older than Fisher (by a few months).

Along with Weber and now Fisher, the Predators list of captains also included Tom Fitzgerald, Greg Johnson, Kimmo Timonen and Jason Arnott.

Here’s hoping Fisher rising to this level means that people freshen their jokes about his marriage to Carrie Underwood. It’s time, gang.

Patrick Kaleta thinks he can still play in the NHL

UNIONDALE, NY - FEBRUARY 04: Patrick Kaleta #36 of the Buffalo Sabres prepares for warmups prior to the game against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on February 4, 2012 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Well, at least Patrick Kaleta doesn’t feel like George Costanza any longer.

The bruising player compared his experiences during the latter days of his time with the Buffalo Sabres to that of the popular “Seinfeld” character who always seemed to find himself in awkward workplace situations.

At 30, he told the Buffalo News that he believes there’s still some gas in the tank.

“Hopefully, I get a chance to play in the NHL,” Kaleta said. “I definitely don’t think I’m washed up yet.”

Let’s be honest: some teams probably won’t be interested in Kaleta even in his “peak” form. On the other hand, with Raffi Torres getting a PTO, there’s evidence that at least some teams might ponder a player like him.

(Now, some will argue that Torres is a more useful player than Kaleta beyond the nonsense, but that doesn’t mean someone wouldn’t give Kaleta a shot nonetheless.)

Kaleta points to the fact that he’s beefed up lately, telling the Buffalo News that he’s packed on 12 lbs. of “good weight” to hit 210.

It doesn’t sound like Kaleta wants to go back to the Sabres for a prospective gig, although he could always try the Costanza classic of just sort of wondering back in as if nothing’s changed.

/Waits for someone to put together a Kaleta montage to that memorable bass line.

(H/T to Kukla’s Korner.)