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.