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Canada players are enjoying return to routine

by Dan Rosen
VANCOUVER -- Canada's players finally can go through their normal game-day routine today, complete with a morning skate, an afternoon nap and a pre-game meal of whatever they so desire.
After playing five games that all started at 4:30 p.m. local time, Canada will face Slovakia Friday at 6:30 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. ET, CNBC, CTV). It's not 7 or 7:30 as they are used to with their NHL schedules, but it's close enough.
"Yeah, we had been playing at 4:30, which is kind of awkward, so this is a little more familiar to what we usually go through, so it's going to be nice for us," Joe Thornton said. "It'll be like normal -- have a nap, eat and relax. It's the same preparation, same-same."
The only way the players will be watching the early game between the United States and Finland is if they are awake. The Americans and Finns play at noon local time (3 p.m. ET, NBC, CTV), and that's right around the time players like to have their pre-game naps.
"I'll probably watch a little bit after I wake up, depending how long I sleep for," Eric Staal told
"We have to focus on tonight's game, not worry about what's going on here before us," added Chris Pronger. "That will take care of itself. We have to worry about Slovakia. They are playing very well and it's going to take our best effort."
Pronger said it will be important for Canada not only to exert its size advantage early against Slovakia, but also their speed. They own the advantage in both areas, just as we found out they did against Russia, too.
"It's all well and good to have the size, but you have to use your speed as well and allow yourself to use that size to your advantage," Pronger said. "We have to be good with the puck and place it smartly in the offensive zone so we can go retrieve it and play physical, much like we did in the first period against Russia."
Slovakia knows it has to watch out for Canada's size, but Zdeno Chara, the tallest player in the NHL, hopes his team doesn't shy away from the puck as a result.
"They are the biggest team and they are probably the most physical team in the tournament, so we have to be ready for that," Chara told "We have to try to win those battles, as well. It doesn't mean that because someone is bigger that they are always going to win the battles. We have to compete. That's the biggest thing. If you really work hard and compete than you have a chance."
Staal said he's feeling much better today than he did after Wednesday's game, when he was pummeled into the end boards by Russia defenseman Anton Volchenkov. Team trainer Jim Ramsey had to run onto the ice because Staal was slumped over.
"I couldn't breathe and I was hacking up a little blood skating off the ice, which is normal, apparently," Staal said with a laugh. "I was looking at the puck and he was looking at me, and I came with a lot of speed and it was just one of those spots. I feel real good today, though. I felt surprisingly a lot better yesterday than I thought I would and I feel real good today. There are no issues."
Ryan Getzlaf was the only Canada player missing from the morning skate, but a team representative said it was just for precautionary reasons due to his lingering ankle injury. Corey Perry said Getzlaf hasn't been slowed at all by the ankle injury he suffered Feb. 8.
"(Thursday) was nice for us to get a day off to refresh the batteries and now we get into a routine," Staal said. "We have to make sure we get the right foods in us, a little nap and get ready for the big one."
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