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Team Canada II Might Win Silver At Sochi Winter Games

There is a hockey team out there with no way to get to the Sochi Olympics and yet I’d be prepared to bet they could win a medal. Maybe even silver.

On Tuesday, GM Steve Yzerman announced Canada’s team for the 2014 Olympic Games. There were some players who made it who raised eyebrows (Jeff Carter? Dan Hamhuis?) and others who raised eyebrows by NOT being on the squad (Joe Thornton, Marty St. Louis, Kris Letang and Claude Giroux). St. Louis’ absence was incredibly surprising given that Yzerman is St. Louis’ boss in Tampa, St. Louis was the Art Ross Trophy winner last year and this year he has led his team to much of its 25-13-4 record while it’s goal-scoring star, Steven Stamkos, has been out of the lineup with a broken leg. St. Louis has 17 goals and 21 assists and is a plus-12 in 42 games this season. Jeeesh.

Martin St. Louis

Martin St. Louis

Anyway, I’d put St. Louis on my team. The one I’d like to take to the Olympics to finish second to Team Canada 1.

Here it is:

FORWARDS: Joe Thornton, Taylor Hall, Martin St. Louis, James Neal, Tyler Seguin, Jordan Eberle, Eric Staal, Milan Lucic, Jason Pominville, Mike Richards, Jarome Iginla, Ryan O’Reilly, Logan Couture, Claude Giroux.

DEFENSE: Kris Letang, Brent Seabrook, Mike Green, Travis Hamonic, Brian Campbell, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Boyle, Jason Garrison.

GOALIES: Corey Crawford, Brian Elliott, Cam Talbot (I’d probably take Josh Harding ahead of every Canadian goalie chosen if he were healthy and Jonathan Bernier has the sixth best save percentage in the NHL)

Now I wouldn’t look you in the eye and say this team would beat Canada, but I do have a real fourth line — Richards, Iginla, Pominville — who would check the hell out of all comers, score on occasion and be happy with the assignment. Remember, as we learned in 2010 and were recently reminded in Malmo, even though international ice is huge, all the scoring and all the battles tend to take place between the faceoff circles.

Meanwhile, I’ll happily take Logan Couture, but if my GM really thought he’d still be injured by Feb. 6, I would add young Nathan McKinnon or even Bryan Little who can actually score when he shoots the puck.

Joe Thornton

Joe Thornton

Frankly, I’d go to the wall with these lines: Thornton-Giroux-St. Louis; Neal-Lucic-Seguin; and Eberle-Hall-Staal. Defensively, I’m fine. I don’t have one player who will score like P.K. Subban or give the puck away like P.K. Subban. People want to run Dustin Byfuglien out of Winnipeg for a couple of mistakes against the Penguins. Have you watched P.K. Subban piss the puck away? Ask Carey Price.

Look, Canada should win gold. Although I’m still not sure Price and Roberto Luongo are my personal answers to winning goaltending these days.

But as Yzerman said during his Team Canada announcement, Canada has plenty of great hockey players. Enough, in fact, to ice two good teams in Sochi.

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