Lines and pairings
TURIN—Finally, some lines and defence pairs.
Let the second guessing begin.
For Maple Leafs fans, as opposed to fans of the Maple Leaf, quarrelling with Team Canada’s lineup might begin with the apparent designation of Bryan McCabe in practice today as the seventh defenceman going into tomorrow’s Olympic opener against Italy.
McCabe wore black just like the rest of the Canadian D-men in practice yesterday, but he was mostly paired with Dan Boyle, who replaced McCabe on the Canadian taxi squad when Scott Niedermayer pulled out. The other Canadian defence pairs appeared to be Chris Pronger with Rob Blake, Wade Redden with Adam Foote and Jay Bouwmeester – added to the team after McCabe moved up from the reserve list – with Robyn Regehr.
Up front, the lines appeared to be (left wing-centre-right wing) Simon Gagne-Joe Thornton-Rick Nash, Dany Heatley-Vinnie Lecavalier-Martin St. Louis, Kris Draper-Joe Sakic-Jarome Iginla, and Ryan Smyth-Brad Richards-Todd Bertuzzi.
Other than Draper as a left winger, there were no surprises, and Team Canada appears set to go with the Thornton line, which was so successful last year at the world championships, in the ’06 Games.
Those alignments appeared to leave Shane Doan as the 13th forward, but he wore red along with the other members of the Richards unit, so that could be subject to change. Jason Spezza and Eric Staal, the other members of the Canadian taxi squad, were also on the ice.
When Canadian practised the power play, the top unit appeared to be Pronger and Blake on the points, with Heatley, Lecavalier and St. Louis up front. The second group had Richards and Blake on the points, with Iginla, Sakic and Bertuzzi as the forwards.
That was a strong indication that Quinn plans to feature Bertuzzi perhaps even more than had been expected, with the Vancouver forward making his first Olympic appearance this year. During the power play practice, McCabe was paired with Redden as a point tandem.
All three goalies were on the ice, but Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo got most of the work.
Executive director Wayne Gretzky, meanwhile, was expected to appear at a post-practice press conference. During the practice, he sat on the team bench alongside Kevin Lowe and Bob Nicholson rather than in his usual place in the stands, probably to more easily sidestep reporters. Dozens of cameras parked on the opposite side of the Palasport Olimpico, snapping as many photos of Gretzky as the playing members of Team Canada.