NHL

Canada strives for balance with Olympic defence corps

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TSN.ca Staff
1/7/2014 1:37:25 PM
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Steve Yzerman and Hockey Canada are getting a little bit of everything with the eight defenceman named to represent Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

The eight defencemen named – Jay Bouwmeester, Drew Doughty, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, P.K. Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Shea Weber – bring a blend of offence, defence, mobility, responsibility and physicality.

For Canada, that responsibility may well start at the top with returnees Keith, Weber and Doughty.

"To me they have everything you want in a defence pairing," TSN director of scouting Craig Button said of the potential top pairing of Keith and Weber. "They can skate, they can move the puck up the ice or they can join in the attack. They can play against the other teams' best players and they're going to play a lot of minutes."

"Mike Babcock will have no hesitance to put those two out there against anybody at any time," Button added.

While some of the players selected were academic, especially returnees Doughty, Keith and Weber, others such as P.K. Subban and Dan Hamhuis were believed to be bubble players until the day the roster was unveiled.

Representing the oldest member of the defence corps and one of the youngest are both new additions to Canada's Olympic squad as 24-year-old Subban and 31-year-old Hamhuis will both be expected to fill Canada's niche needs.

"The bottom pair is exactly what we thought it would be," said NHL on TSN analyst Mike Johnson. "Subban is there for an infusion of offence, a change of pace on special teams and Dan Hamhuis is there for the other end: defence, shot-blocking and penalty-killing depending on the situation."

The defence is a perfect balance of right-handed and left-handed shots, which was a conscious effort by Canada's management. That balance may have played in Vlasic's favour as he edged teammate and 2010 Canadian Olympian Dan Boyle out of one of the coveted blue line spots.

Button praised Vlasic's inclusion on the team, complimenting the 26-year-old's composure.

"He's steady, he's consistent and he plays at a high level," Button said. "It's not just skating and competing, his mind is very, very strong. Mistakes are going to be at a minimum in this type of tournament so you want a guy that's comfortable playing in those big minutes and those important times and he's not going to make mistakes."

Shea Weber (Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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