Olympics

Canada and Latvia clash in quarterfinals of men's hockey

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TSN.ca Staff
2/19/2014 10:03:11 AM
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Canada's quest to defend gold at Sochi truly begins today with a quarterfinal matchup against Latvia.

Listen to the game live on TSN Radio starting at 11:30am et/8:30am pt. And listen to Wayne Gretzky speak, as he joins the TSN Radio panel during the pre-game show.

Canada will look for a fast start after three days off. The Latvians promise to play a similarly tight-checking style to Canada's last opponent, Finland, who was able to push their final preliminary round game to overtime before a Drew Doughty goal sealed a 2-1 victory.

Doughty leads all Canadians in points with four goals and one assist through three games. He leads all defencemen in points at Sochi and trails just Phil Kessel, Michael Grabner and Alexander Radulov overall.

Carey Price once again gets the start in net for Canada after stopping 14 of 15 shots against the Finns. His .943 save percentage is seventh among goalies that have made more than one start at the Olympics.

Latvian netminder Edgars Masalskis has posted a .946 mark through three starts and has made more saves than any other Olympic goalie.

Coach Mike Babcock once again rearranged his forward lines at practice on Tuesday hoping to ignite his forwards ahead of the playoff round. Pittsburgh Penguins teammates Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz have once again been reunited with Patrice Bergeron on the right side. Meanwhile, Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn has been placed alongside Anaheim Ducks duo Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to form a menacing power forward trio.

Martin St. Louis will dress for today's game after being a healthy scratch against Finland. He replaces Matt Duchene in the lineup and has been held off the score-sheet thus far in the tournament.

"The reality is we dress 13 forwards each game," Babcock said. "One guy hardly gets on the ice. It's a hard, hard situation for people that play 22 minutes. That's the way it is. You've got to find a way to help out when you get a chance."

P.K. Subban is also the odd men out. Dan Hamhuis will be the seventh defenceman, leaving Subban out of the lineup for the third time in four games. He played 11:41 minutes in Canada's 6-0 rout of Austria.

"He's a proud guy. And he's here and he doesn't get to dress," Babcock said of Subban. "Nobody is probably thrilled about that. Those are hard decisions that we make, and in the end they've got to live it."

"That doesn't mean they've got to like it. But you're here to be a good pro and a good teammate and as it's not about me and it's not him, it's about Canada. As long as we all remember that, we're fine."

Latvia went 0-3 in Group C in the preliminary round, scoring just five goals combined against the Czech Republic, Sweden and Switzerland.

The upstart Latvians are guaranteed their best-ever Olympic finish after surprising Switzerland 3-1 in the qualification playoff round. Lauris Darzins led the way for Latvia, scoring a pair against Switzerland, including the game-winner and the empty-netter that sealed the victory.

This is Latvia's first ever trip to the Olympic quarter-finals, having been eliminated in the preliminary round in 2006 and losing in overtime to the Czech Republic in the 2010 qualification playoffs.

Canada and Latvia have met on only one prior occasion at the Olympics, with the Canadians winning an 11-0 blowout at the 1936 Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. Latvia's best-ever result against Canada at the men's level came at the 1997 IIHF World Championships where they earned a 3-3 draw.

Latvia boasts just one NHL player in Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons. However, a number of their players have NHL experience including Oskars Bartulis, Kaspars Daugavins among others.

Their most experienced NHL veteran is captain Sandis Ozolinsh, who played 875 career games between 1992-93 and 2007-08. A seven-time NHL All-Star, Ozolinsh was a Norris Trophy finalist in 1996-97 and won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 1995-96.

"I know Sandis Ozolinsh played for me and helped me get to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and he's their captain," Babcock said. "They're better as a sum than they are as parts."

FORWARD
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby -  Patrice Bergeron
Patrick Marleau - Jonathan Toews - Jeff Carter
Jamie Benn - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Patrick Sharp - John Tavares - Rick Nash
Martin St. Louis

DEFENCE

Duncan Keith - Shea Weber
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Drew Doughty
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Dan Hamhuis

EXTRAS
Matt Duchene, P.K. Subban

PP1
Tavares - Crosby - Carter
Keith - Sharp

PP2
Toews - Getzlaf - Perry
Weber - Doughty

PK1
Marleau - Bergeron
Bouwmeester - Pietrangelo

PK2
Toews - Nash
Vlasic - Doughty

PK3
Benn - Bergeron
Keith - Weber

Carey Price - Canada (Photo: The Canadian Press)

zoom

(Photo: The Canadian Press)

CANADA vs. LATVIA

GAME NOTES

Teams have met once at the OLY, in 1936
LAT has never beat CAN at senior level, CAN 9 wins and a tie at Worlds
LAT has never beat CAN at any level of competition (CAN 3-0-0 WJ/U-18)
CAN:
won 5 of past 6 QF games (lost 2006)
1/4 on PP (fewest PPs of any team), 7/8 on PK
Price .943sv%
Crosby (0G) has 5 shots on net
Doughty (4G, 1A) has scored in all 3 games
LAT:
Previous OLY best finish was a 9th in 2002
4/13 on PP, 10/15 on PK
Masalskis (.946sv%
Darzins (3G, 1A)
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