If you wanted to get an idea for just how incredibly deep the Canadian hockey team is when it comes to international tournaments, just consider that Claude Giroux, one of the NHL’s best and most productive players, will be a healthy scratch when they open the 2016 World Cup of Hockey on Saturday evening against the Czech Republic.
Taking Giroux’s spot in the lineup will be Ryan O'Reilly, who was just added to the roster this week as an injury replacement for Tyler Seguin. Coach Mike Babcock said on Friday the main reason for O’Reilly getting a spot in the lineup over Giroux is O’Reilly’s penalty killing ability.
O’Reilly spent practice on Friday skating between Matt Duchene, a 30-goal scorer this past season, and Joe Thornton, a future Hall of Famer and one of the best playmakers ever. And that is their fourth line.
Giroux is coming off of a 2015-16 season that saw him record 67 points in 78 games. Since the start of the 2011-12 season Giroux’s 367 points are more than any other player in the NHL.
Along with the decision to scratch Giroux, Babcock also announced on Friday that Montreal’s Carey Price will open as the team’s starting goaltender while Corey Crawford will serve as his backup on Saturday.
Braden Holtby, the 2015-16 Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goalie, will not dress for the game.
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin will also be a healthy scratch on defense.