The Canadian Olympic team held their first practice in Russia today, giving us a broad understanding of how the lines might shake up. Captain of the Dallas Stars, Jamie Benn appears to be playing left wing on the fourth line with Patrice Bergeron at center and Patrick Marleau on the right. Jamie Benn enters the Olympics with 51 points (22-29-51), Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins) enters with 38 points (16-22-38), while Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks) enters with 50 points (23-27-50). Jamie Benn (24 years of age) will be the young one on this line and will be looked at to add stamina to the line as Bergeron is 28, and Marleau is 34 years of age. Benn also saw some time on the penalty kill during practice.
The 18 year old Valeri Nichushkin (Dallas Stars) was used as more of an extra during practice along with the injured Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings). Nichushkin failed to make it on the fourth line as of now. However, there is still a lot of games and practices to be played, and Nichushkin’s young body may give him an upper hand in getting some quality playing time.
Kari Lehtonen (Dallas Stars) was recently named the NHL’s second star of the week; previously he had been named the first star of the week to finish the month of January. That doesn’t give Kari the shoe-in to be named the starting goaltender for team Finland though. Finland is stacked in their goaltending, having Kari Lehtonen, Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins), and Antti Niemi (San Jose Sharks) also on the roster. With the recent successes that Lehtonen has had, he should be able to continue to play at an elite level.
The preliminary games start this Wednesday.
Kari Lehtonen and Finland take on Austria on Thursday morning at 1:00AM MT.
Valeri Nichushkin with Russia will play the next game against Slovenia Thursday morning at 5:30AM MT.
Team Canada and Jamie Benn will finish the “day” against Norway on Thursday at 10:00AM MT.
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