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jokergreen Dec 4
SOCHI, Russia -- Jonathan Toews pushed Matt Duchene into the centre of the ice as Team Canada started to stretch before practice. Kyle Wilber Jersey . After sitting out as the 14th forward against Latvia, Duchene is back in the game following an injury to John Tavares. Duchene will replace Tavares in Canadas lineup for the Olympic semifinal showdown with the United States on Friday after the star centre suffered a tournament-ending knee injury. Its also a season-ending injury, as the New York Islanders confirmed their franchise player tore the medial collateral ligament and meniscus in his left knee on a hit from Latvias Arturs Kulda. The team said he would remain in Sochi with Team Canada for the rest of the Olympics before returning home for further evaluation. In the meantime, Canada must go on without him, and that means Duchene stepping into his spot centring the fourth line between Patrick Sharp and Rick Nash. "Johnnys been playing great for us, and hopefully he has a speedy recovery," Duchene said. "But its a big opportunity for myself now, chance to play centre, to play where Im comfortable. Theres been a lot of unfamiliars in this tournament, and when you get a short chance at it, sometimes can be tough, so this is going to be much more familiar." This is where Canadas best-in-the-world depth at centre provides a big advantage. Duchene goes from being a healthy scratch in two of the first four games and playing left wing in the other two back to the middle where he plays for the Colorado Avalanche. Duchene called speed his biggest asset, and its undoubtedly one reason coach Mike Babcock plugged him in where Tavares had been playing. "Thats why were set up (with so many centres)," Babcock said. "Duchys a real good centreman with great speed, so were not concerned about him that way." Another reason might be that it meant not having to mess with the other three lines. Again in practice Thursday, Sidney Crosby centred Chris Kunitz and Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Getzlaf centred Jamie Benn and Corey Perry, and Toews centred Patrick Marleau and Jeff Carter. If those lines stay together against the U.S., aside from Tavares out because of injury, itll mark the first time Canada had consistent lines two games in a row. Thats not any accident. "We like what we got going," Babcock said. "Were trying to build a team here, too. Were trying to make everybody important. We knew there was going to be some lineup changes." In some places, there are no changes. Carey Price will start in goal for the third straight game and fourth time at these Olympics, and the same defensive pairs of Duncan Keith with Shea Weber, Marc-Edouard Vlasic with Drew Doughty and Jay Bouwmeester with Alex Pietrangelo are expected to stick together. Given that the forwards have scored only six of Canadas 13 goals through four games, there might be some benefits to building chemistry from game to game. "That can add a little bit of comfort going into the next game if youre playing with the same guys and you kind of get that rhythm together," Getzlaf said. "But ... that can change with the drop of the puck, so youve just got to be prepared for everything and be prepared to go out and work that system no matter who youre playing with." Kunitz took Tavares spot on the power play with Crosby, Carter, Sharp and Keith. The other unit of Toews, Getzlaf, Perry, Weber and Doughty remained the same. Bob Lilly Jersey . Bjoerndalen, who had failed to win any major race for two years before Sochi, writes in a Facebook entry that he is "full of energy and inspiration" after winning the 10-kilometre sprint and mixed relay at last months Olympics. Chaz Green Jersey . The same cant be said of last Saturdays 2-2 draw at Olympic Stadium against a very weakened New York Red Bulls side and one which had three stalwarts in Henry, Cahill and Olave back home in Harrison, NJ.Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Thankfully, there will be no labor disputes or Winter Olympics disrupting NHL action this season, as the league tries to get back to normal in 2014-15. After suffering through a lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, the NHL saw last season halted for nearly a month while the league went on hiatus for the Sochi Olympics. However, no such interruptions are expected this season and hockey fans will even get to see the return of the NHL All-Star Game, an event that hasnt been held since January of 2012. Dynasty is a word being thrown around quite a bit these days thanks to the recent success experienced in Chicago and Los Angeles, a pair of franchises with two Cup victories over the past several seasons. Neither team is worthy of the dynasty label yet, but the race is on to see if either club can add to its title haul in 2015. The Blackhawks won their second Cup title in four seasons in the spring of 2013 and the Kings made it two championships in three years back in June. The clubs battled in the Western Conference finals in last seasons playoffs and theres a good chance that both the West crown and the Cup could go through Chicago or L.A. yet again. The realignment plan instituted at the start of the last season has set the West up as the stronger of the two conferences, with the East lagging far behind. In addition to Chicago and L.A., Anaheim, Colorado, Minnesota, St. Louis and San Jose also have legitimate Cup dreams, but theres a solid chance theyll need to upset either the Blackhawks or Kings in order to reach the promised land. The top contender in the East, meanwhile, is the Boston Bruins, who won last seasons Presidents Trophy before getting knocked out in the second round by Montreal. The defending conference champion New York Rangers also figure to be among the Easts top teams, while the Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning also could be in the mix at seasons end. Odds are the 2015 champion will come from the West. If that happens it would mark the conferences fifth title since 2010, with only the 2010-11 Bruins claiming a Cup for the East so far during the stretch. Once again the top three clubs from each of the leagues four divisions will earn automatic bids to the playoffs, while wild card spots account for the remaining two postseason spots in each conference. The second- and third-place teams from each division will meet in the first round of the playoffs. The remaining opening-round series will feature one matchup between the division winner with the most points against the wild card with the lowest point total and another featuring the other division winner and wild card representative. Without further ado, its time to make predictions on which teams are bound for the playoffs. Here it goes: EASTERN CONFERENCE ATLANTIC Boston Bruins (champion) Tampa Bay Lightning (automatic bid) Montreal Canadiens (automatic bid) METROPOLITAN Pittsburgh Penguins (champion) New York Rangers (automatic bid) Columbus Blue Jackets (automatic bid) WILD CARDS New Jersey Devils New York Islanders EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPION: Boston Heading into the 2014 playoffs, the Bruins were billed as the only East team with a real chance of beating one of the Wests elite clubs in the Cup Finals. However, Claude Juliens club didnt get the chance to test its mettle against the representatives from the NHLs power conference as Boston fell in seven games to the rival Montreal Canadiens in the East semifinals. The Habs downed Boston with speed in the playoffs before the Rangers beat Montreal at its own game in the conference finals. Jonathan Cooper Jersey. Both clubs obviously have the skaters to take down the Bruins again, but Boston shouldnt be counted out due to one shaky postseason performance. The Bruins, after all, have shown the ability to rebound from poor playoff appearances in recent years under Julien and it could be time for them to prove it again. Boston won the Stanley Cup in 2011 just one year removed from a monumental 0-3 collapse against Philadelphia in the 2010 playoffs. Then after getting bounced by Washington in the first round of the 2012 playoffs, the Bs went on to face the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2013 Cup Finals before ultimately falling in six games. Juliens system, which puts an emphasis on responsible team defense, is the major reason Boston is still a threat. Steady on-ice leaders like star defenseman Zdeno Chara and versatile centerman Patrice Bergeron make sure the team sticks to the plan, and having reigning Vezina Trophy winner Tuukka Rask between the pipes doesnt hurt either. The Bruins may not be able to stop the trend of Western Conference dominance in the end, but a return to the Cup Finals is well within Bostons reach. WESTERN CONFERENCE CENTRAL St. Louis Blues (champion) Chicago Blackhawks (automatic bid) Minnesota Wild (automatic bid) PACIFIC Anaheim Ducks (champion) Los Angeles Kings (automatic bid) San Jose Sharks (automatic bid) WILD CARDS Colorado Avalanche Dallas Stars WESTERN CONFERENCE/STANLEY CUP CHAMPION: Chicago Blackhawks No team has been able to claim consecutive Cups since Detroit pulled off the repeat in 1997 and 98, but the Kings are a serious threat to supplant the Red Wings as the most recent back-to-back champions. Of course, the Blackhawks figure to be the biggest obstacle standing in the way of a second straight L.A. title. Chicago not only pushed the Kings to the limit in last springs classic Western Conference finals battle, it also carried a 4-3 edge into the third period of Game 7 before L.A. rallied for a 5-4 OT victory in the Windy City. The Blackhawks and Kings are similar in many ways. They boast two of the NHLs deepest rosters with star players littered throughout and both clubs are used to dominating the opposition when it comes to puck possession. Chicago seems to own a slight edge in overall defensive depth, but Kings blueliner Drew Doughty appeared to be the biggest difference maker during last years playoff battle. L.A. goaltender Jonathan Quick also is a better regarded goaltender than Chicagos Corey Crawford, but both players have proven themselves capable of anchoring a Cup-winning team. When two teams match up this closely with one another, intangible factors can often tip the balance in one clubs favor. What L.A. did in last years playoffs was amazing, but the Kings did receive their share of puck luck along the way and theres a good chance it could run out in 2015. Darryl Sutters resilient club deserves credit for rallying from down 3-0 to beat San Jose in Round 1 last spring and coming back from a 3-2 deficit to eliminate Anaheim in the conference semis before outlasting Chicago, but a few bounces the other way easily could have ended L.A.s title hopes prematurely. After the Kings magical run to the Cup in 2014, it isnt crazy to think the Blackhawks will have luck on their side this time. One thing is clear: as hockey fans, wed all be lucky to see another Western Conference battle between Chicago and L.A. The race to claim a dynasty is on, and in 2014-15 it could be Chicagos turn to take another lap with Lord Stanleys Cup. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '

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