Top Line: Quick gets start for Team USA; Carey Price goes for Canada; more links
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• After this morning's practice, coach Mike Babcock announced that Carey Price will be between the pipes when Canada opens against Norway.
• With Babcock acting as a benevolent dictator, Canada's coaching staff has a clear plan to guide its team to gold in Sochi.
• Team Russia is ready to get down to business in Sochi. Its practice on Wednesday gave us a look at the first power play unit: Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Radulov and Andrei Markov. That's a decent incentive to stay out of the box.
• Russia has announced its scratches for Game 1.
• Dejan Kovacevic looks at the comfortable relationship between Team USA's new acting GM, Ray Shero, and coach Dan Bylsma, and explains how it led them to build a team of jerks.
• Who's gonna win this thing? There appears to be a divergence of opinions.
• Sounds as though Don Cherry is enjoying his time in Russia. Grapes talks about the food, the beer and the movie in which Phil Esposito is made to look like Dracula. No, really.
• Some of the stars of the 2010 Canadian team have revealed where they keep their gold medals. No surprise that the best answer comes from Roberto Luongo, right?
• Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts is always a great read, but this week's Olympic-themed piece, which leads off with some insight from an unexpected source, is even better than usual.
• The NHL has been very chatty over the past couple days about participation in upcoming Olympic Games. Bill Daly now says that a decision about South Korea, and other international events, will be made in the next six months or so. At this point, the door appears to be wide open for the league's stars to take part.
• It's early, but this is a contender for one of my favorite moments of the Sochi Games.
• The great Dave Bidini reminds us that while things have changed since 1972, Team Canada still faces unique challenges in Russia.
• The chances of tension at the next family gathering of the Backstroms just got a little higher.
• Great news out of Edmonton on Tuesday, when it was confirmed that construction on a new downtown arena will start next month.
• The AHL had the brilliant idea to bring Farjestads of the Swedish league over to North America to trick up this year's All-Star Game. Worked out pretty well last night in the Skills Competition, where Charles Bertrand unloaded this double-reverse through-the-legs goal in the shootout competition. This, as the kids say, is just gross:
• Moments of kindness play out quietly every night around the NHL, but one family wanted to be certain that Dion Phaneuf's efforts to brighten the life of their sick child did not go unrecognized. • This Olympic memory was created on the snow, rather than the ice, but it's a reminder of the true Olympic ideal. There won't be a medal for Justin Wadsworth, but he'll be remembered as one of the heroes of Sochi.