Matt Duchene among 10 players on Team Canada bubble
Players have just one month left to impress
It’s getting close to crunch time for those charged with picking the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team. The team will be announced Jan. 7, which means those players that are on the bubble, are in final auditions.
Here are 10 players – one goalie, three defencemen and seven forwards – who are bubble players:
- Corey Crawford, goalie, Chicago Blackhawks: The fact Crawford helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup last season and he currently leads the NHL in victories with 17 this year gives him an edge. His numbers aren’t great, though. He’s 21st in goals-against average (2.43) and 31st in save percentage (.909).
- Jay Bouwmeester, defenceman, St. Louis Blues: He has been vanilla for much of his NHL career, but he is big, has great wheels and also an offensive upside with a goal and 19 points in 26 games. It helps that his coach in St. Louis, Ken Hitchcock, is on Team Canada’s staff.
- Dion Phaneuf, defenceman, Toronto Maple Leafs: The big question is if Phaneuf’s skating will stand up on the big ice? Phaneuf plays big minutes for the Maple Leafs and has been successful in shutting down the opposition’s top scorers.
- Marc-Edouard Vlasic, defenceman, San Jose Sharks: Being a left-handed shooter works in his favor, as does the fact he is solid at both ends of the ice. ‘Pickles’ has become a valuable player on a Stanley Cup contender.
- Claude Giroux, centre, Philadelphia Flyers: Once thought to be a lock for Team Canada, not scoring a goal in his first 15 games this season changed that. Giroux seems to have found his touch, but is it too late?
- Taylor Hall, left wing, Edmonton Oilers: Hall is a dynamic forward with a winning pedigree. However, he probably needed to shoot the lights out in the first half to be included and seven goals and 20 points may not cut it.
- Matt Duchene, centre, Colorado Avalanche: The 22-year-old centre may have to move to the wing to make the team, but he has blazing speed and is a fine two-way performer. He leads the upstart Avalanche in goal-scoring with 12, but hasn’t tallied in his past four games.
- Chris Kunitz, left wing, Pittsburgh Penguins: Will having friends in high places benefit Kunitz? He patrols the left side on Sidney Crosby’s line in Pittsburgh and has 14 goals and 28 points in 29 games. They have chemistry.
- Andrew Ladd, left wing, Winnipeg Jets: A responsible up-and-down winger who has grit and drives hard to the net. Ladd is a natural winger, which makes him unique among the top forward candidates for the team.
- Martin St. Louis, right wing, Tampa Bay Lightning: It’s almost impossible to envision Team Canada boss Steve Yzerman not picking St. Louis and risk losing him for the rest of the year in Tampa Bay where Yzerman is also the GM. St. Louis deserves to be there even at age 38. He is productive, responsible defensively and a leader.