A veteran of the 2006 World Championships, Jeff Carter will be playing in his first Olympics. (Getty Images)
By Allan Muir
Canadian fans have been scribbling Olympic line combinations for this year's team on blogs and beer napkins almost since the end of the 2010 Games. Today, we finally got our first idea of how coach Mike Babcock envisions Team Canada taking shape when it debuts on Thursday against Norway.
The team's first practice in Sochi saw Jeff Carter in the coveted right wing spot on Canada's top line alongside Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. It had been speculated for a couple of weeks that the Kings' sniper would get the first look if Steven Stamkos couldn't go, so this isn't a big surprise. Carter is a right-handed shot and one of the game's best scorers, so he has the tools to fill the role. How long he stays there, though, depends on whether he can develop some kind of chemistry with Crosby.
Tavares makes a lot of sense in that spot. None of the three are blazing fast, and all can play a gritty game, so there's a feeling that they'll blend well. Then again, any time you put two of the league's top-three scorers on a line, chances are that good things are bound to happen.