Carter gets first crack at Crosby-Kunitz line for Olympics 0
Jeff Carter got the first chance to build chemistry with Sidney Crosby (front) and Chris Kunitz (back) in Sochi for Team Canada. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)
Like everybody else, Sidney Crosby is waiting to see what happens with Team Canada's line combinations.
Crosby, the Canadian captain this time around, had six linemates during Canada's successful run to the Olympic gold medal in 2010.
He started Canada's first practice Monday with Chris Kunitz, his regular linemate from the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Jeff Carter of the Los Angeles Kings.
So, how long will that last before changes are in the offing?
"I'm not sure, to be honest," Crosby said. "I don't know if they're going to base things on practice or they're going to give it a chance in a game and see how things work. But I think in a short-term event like this, you have to be just ready to adjust and ready for anything. Usually when lines are sticking together, that's a good sign. So hopefully everything just kind of sticks together."
Carter was already chastised by Canadian coach Mike Babcock for passing the puck too much.
"I think the things that stick out are his speed and his shot," Crosby said of Carter. "I don't think you have to tell him anything (else) besides just 'shoot it.' He's going to get open and he's going to be able to create things with his speed. We'll talk and communicate and figure things out as we go along, but I think anybody that you play with on this team, you're going to have some skill."
Crosby was looking forward to getting to bed Monday night and getting into some kind of routine Tuesday when Team Canada is scheduled to practice in the afternoon in advance of Thursday's first game against Norway.
"It's good. I'm excited to get to bed tonight and start a routine here (Tuesday)," Crosby said. "It's been a lot of travel, but the facilities are great. It's a short walk to the rink -- yeah, we're well set up. It'll be nice to get going here.
"I think you just try to get a handle on everything and find out what your schedule is. Yeah, you just to get an idea for how everything is going to work and when you're going to meet and your routine and things like that. I think in a short-term event like this, the more you can get some consistency and obviously get to know the guys -- there's some new faces, too, that you don't know particularly well -- the more that you can jell and get to know everyone, I think the better."
As far as combinations go, Crosby is keeping an eye on what's happening with the other teams, like Russia, where Penguins teammate Evgeni Malkin is centring a line with Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin.
"That's a pretty good line," Crosby said. "I think that you're going to see a lot of combinations on a lot of different teams that have a lot of firepower. That one's pretty dangerous. That's a dangerous combination."
MORE THAN HOCKEY
Steve Yzerman knows how much space the men's Olympic team takes up in the Canadian psyche.
But when told about a poll that says three-quarters of Canadians base their evaluation of Canada at the Olympics on whether the men's hockey team wins gold or not, the executive director of the squad said that's just not right.
Pressure from that kind of expectation?
"I don't worry about the pressure of that," Yzerman said. "I think it's unfair to the rest of the Canadian Olympic team. The Canadian hockey players, both men and women, but in particular the players I know of -- and I was a player at one point -- it was an honour and it was very exciting to be a part of the Canadian Olympic team, to be around all the other athletes and their sports, to sit in the (athletes) village and watch a Canadian athlete come in with a gold medal, to be able to see it, to talk to them and see the joy in their face.
"I want people to understand our players are respectful of all the other athletes here and are proud to be a part of the Canadian Olympic team. We want to win a gold medal much like every other athlete. I would disagree with that poll. We can only do our part and hopefully we can bring home a gold medal.
"For every Canadian athlete, they've been training their entire life for this and I think it's unfair to them that we detract from any of their accomplishments regardless of what happens with our hockey team."
The man's right.