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Canada juggles lines again, Kunitz back with Crosby

by Arpon Basu

SOCHI -- Another day, another set of linemates for Sidney Crosby.

Canada coach Mike Babcock shuffled his deck of forwards again at practice Tuesday, reuniting the Pittsburgh Penguins duo of Chris Kunitz and Crosby on a line with Patrice Bergeron.

Crosby has had different linemates during Canada's three preliminary-round games here at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and it looks like he will again when Canada plays Latvia in the quarterfinals Wednesday (noon ET, MSNBC, CBC).

"I think you prepared yourself for that when you got selected to the team," Kunitz said Tuesday after practice. "They're going to try to put the best combinations [for] our team … to win. Wherever they put that, now you want to go on the ice and have your best game."

Babcock also put Dallas Stars power forward Jamie Benn on a line with the Anaheim Ducks duo of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.

Canada's forward lines have not remained consistent for two straight days since the tournament began.

"We've changed our lines, in my opinion, same as last Olympics -- too much," Babcock said. "We're trying to find the right way."

Kunitz's presence on the Canadian team has been linked to his ability to play with Crosby, who also lacked consistent linemates at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. After playing on Crosby's left wing through the first two games of the Olympics, Kunitz was moved off the line during Canada's 2-1 overtime win against Finland that closed the preliminary round.

"We can go either way," Babcock said. "We debated that and we're not sure, but that's what we're doing."

Crosby has two assists in three games but still hasn't been able to score even though he has been generating a lot of scoring chances.

"I think Sid's played great," Kunitz said. "We're trying to play with energy every shift. I think everybody in the world knows who Sid is and every time they line up against him they want to play hard on him and make sure he doesn't score."

Babcock said he will announce his lineup for the quarterfinals Wednesday after the pregame skate. He announced Tuesday that Carey Price will start in goal.

Here are the forward lines and defense pairings Canada used at practice Tuesday:

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patrice Bergeron

Patrick Marleau - Jonathan Toews - Jeff Carter

Jamie Benn/Matt Duchene - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Patrick Sharp - John Tavares - Rick Nash/Martin St. Louis

Duncan Keith - Shea Weber

Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Drew Doughty

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Dan Hamhuis - P.K. Subban

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