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Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 6:39 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - Road to Sochi blog

Neal among key Penguins left off Canadian team

VANCOUVER – As the media gathered five and six deep around the lockers of Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and linemate Chris Kunitz to talk about making Canada's team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, James Neal sat quietly a couple of stalls away.

As happy as Neal was for his teammates, it was hard to match their smiles after being left off the Canadian roster.

"You have to keep your head up, and try to keep a smile on your face but it is tough," Neal said. "It's disappointing, you wanted to be part of that team so bad and you only get so many chances. It's the chance of a lifetime to play for Team Canada at the Olympics."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 5:42 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor / - Road to Sochi blog

Canada returns 11 players from 2010 gold-medal team

Eleven players from Canada's Olympic gold-medal winning team in Vancouver four years ago have been selected to play in the 2014 Sochi Olympics next month.

Hockey Canada released its highly anticipated 25-man Olympic team roster Tuesday in Toronto, naming goalie Roberto Luongo (Vancouver Canucks); defensemen Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks), Shea Weber (Nashville Predators) and Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings); and forwards Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins), Rick Nash (New York Rangers), Jonathan Toews (Blackhawks), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks), Corey Perry (Ducks) and Patrick Marleau (San Jose Sharks) as the returning players from the 2010 team, which defeated the United States in the gold-medal game.

The first-time Olympians picked to play for Canada in Sochi are goalies Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens) and Mike Smith (Phoenix Coyotes); forwards John Tavares (New York Islanders), Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche), Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning), Chris Kunitz (Penguins), Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings), Patrick Sharp (Blackhawks) and Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars); and defensemen Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis Blues), Dan Hamhuis (Vancouver Canucks), P.K. Subban (Montreal Canadiens) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (San Jose Sharks).

Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 5:28 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Road to Sochi blog

Stars forward Benn played way onto Canada roster

NEW YORK -- When the roster for Canada Olympic orientation camp was announced before the 2013-14 NHL season, Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn found out where he was in his country's pecking order. There were 25 forwards invited to the camp in Calgary, and Benn was not one of them.

When the roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics was announced Tuesday in Toronto, Benn found out how far he's come. There were 14 forwards named to the team tasked with defending the gold medal, and Benn was among them.

"It was a little bit of disappointment. I felt like I deserved at least to get an invite, but Team Canada is not an easy team to make," Benn said of not getting a camp invite. "There was a lot of great players who got invited to that camp. It was a tough decision for Hockey Canada to make and it just gave me a little more motivation for this year."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 5:24 PM

By Staff -  / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Kuemper to start in goal for Wild

Darcy Kuemper will start in goal for the Minnesota Wild against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

It will be the second start and third game for Kuemper, who is 0-1-0 with a 6.10 goals-against average and .625 save percentage. His other start came Oct. 15 when he allowed three goals on seven shots against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Kuemper has been solid with the Iowa Wild, Minnesota's American Hockey League team, going 7-10-0 with a 2.47 GAA and .929 save percentage in 17 games.

Niklas Backstrom will serve as the backup Tuesday. According to the (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune, Backstrom has stiffness in his abdominal region and spent extra time in practice working with the coaching staff.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 5:04 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Road to Sochi blog

Reality of Olympics in homeland sinks in for Ovechkin

With the long-awaited unveiling of the Russian team that will look to defend home soil at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin said the reality of what will come next month is starting to set in.

"Every day it's getting closer," Ovechkin said during a conference call Tuesday. "All my friends are calling and asking what's happening, who's going to be on the team. I'm very excited. I'm very happy to be on the roster, very excited to represent my country in my country at the Olympic Games."

Ovechkin will be a central figure not just on the Russian hockey team, but the entire Russian Olympic delegation. He was the first Russian to carry the Olympic torch when it left Greece in August.

Russia will be expected to contend for the gold medal and the pressure on the team will be extreme. However, Ovechkin said he's trying to ignore that pressure as best he can.

"I don't think about it," he said. "I don't want to take the pressure right now on me. Soon I'm going to feel all kinds of pressure on myself, on the team and on the coaching staff. Right now I don't think about it. But it's hard to do because every time I get the news on the Internet it's all about the Olympic Games and all that kind of stuff. The fans and media, everybody wants more information, wants more news about the team and about the rosters."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 4:50 PM

By Brian Hedger - Correspondent / - Road to Sochi blog

Relieved Sharp one of 10 Blackhawks going to Sochi

CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp tried not to think about the 2014 Sochi Olympics much, but even he couldn't help it as Canada's scheduled roster revealing neared Tuesday morning.

The 32-year old Sharp, from Thunder Bay, Ontario, started mulling his chances to make the Canadian roster last week, after recording his second hat trick in a seven-day span. It was on his mind ever since, even as he stepped into the shower Tuesday morning before heading to practice.

That's when the phone rang.

"I just got out of the shower and had a voice mail," Sharp said. "I had my phone with me the whole time. I was surprised I didn't have it in the shower with me. I got a call from Doug Armstrong, the GM of St. Louis, and I called him back as soon as I could and he didn't answer. I listed to the voice mail a couple more times and confirmed that I was going. He called me right back and we had a good talk. It was a special moment."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 4:42 PM

By Derek Van Diest - Correspondent / - Road to Sochi blog

Calls bring different news for Bouwmeester, Hall

EDMONTON -- St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester and Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall each received a phone call from Hockey Canada on Tuesday morning.

One brought good news, the other bad as the Canadian Olympic team selections were announced in Toronto.

Bouwmeester, who was left off the Olympic team four years ago in Vancouver, will be on the squad heading to Sochi, Russia in February. Hall will not.

"It's pretty exciting stuff," Bouwmeester said. "It wasn't something I was thinking about or worried about, there are a lot of real good players. I've been on the other side, looking in and it's not a lot of fun.

"It's a great opportunity and it's something that if you have the chance to be a part of, it's something special and it's something you want to take advantage of."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 4:34 PM

By Kevin Woodley - Correspondent / - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Timetable on return for Canucks' Luongo a mystery

VANCOUVER -- Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo will be healthy enough to represent Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but there is still no indication when he'll be back with his NHL team.

Luongo spoke about his selection by Hockey Canada on Tuesday but was forbidden from talking about the ankle injury that kept him out against the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, and required an MRI on Monday.

Luongo still hasn't skated and he won't play against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night, but there was no sign of a limp as he walked away from a long media scrum team officials threatened to cut short if there were questions about his injury. He did, however, admit to wondering about his Olympic chances after getting hurt in a game against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

"I mean, at that point I did not know what was going on exactly yet so obviously it crosses your mind," Luongo said, adding he never talked to Canada officials over the weekend about the injury. "But at the end of the day my main goal is to get healthy and play for the Canucks, so that's what I am worried about right now."

Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 4:20 PM

By Sean Farrell - Correspondent / - Road to Sochi blog

Canadiens' Subban grateful for chance to go to Sochi

BROSSARD, Que. -- For months, P.K. Subban has been the subject of much discussion and debate by Canadian hockey pundits and fans about whether he would be invited to take part in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

On Tuesday, the Montreal Canadiens defenseman got the call he and his boosters were hoping for.

Subban was named to Canada's Olympic team along with Montreal teammate Carey Price, bolstering to eight the number of Canadiens who will represent their respective countries in Sochi.

Montreal defensemen Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin were named Tuesday to represent Russia, which will host its first Olympic Winter Games. Canadiens backup goalie Peter Budaj was named to Slovakia's Olympic team.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.07.2014 / 4:16 PM

By Curtis Zupke - Correspondent / - Road to Sochi blog

Canada had tough choices with a few Bruins players

ANAHEIM -- Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand were invited to Canada's Olympic orientation camp in the summer but the Boston Bruins forwards were not among those who made the final cut when the team was announced Tuesday.

Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli helped consult executive director Steve Yzerman, and Bruins coach Claude Julien is an assistant coach on the team and had input on the selections.

Speaking generally, Julien said, "All I can say is that there were some real tough decisions that had to be made. We all know there are some good players that are left off the roster right now. But at the same time we feel pretty confident with the group that we have that we're going to go out there and compete well."

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It seems like I'm kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last two games.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after tying the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with an assist on Duncan Keith's goal with 26.6 seconds left against the Anaheim Ducks Friday
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