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Sutter happy with changes for Canada

by Adam Kimelman

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Heading into this week, Canada coach Brent Sutter said he had a feeling the game Saturday against United States had a chance to be a rough one for his team.

"It's Day 5 or Day 6 of a training camp," Sutter said following his team's 5-1 loss. "These kids have two practices come in here and play three games in four days. I was worried about this game going into it with our mental and physical side of it. Usually that Day 5 or Day 6, a player kind of hits a wall a little bit and I thought we hit a wall today with it a little bit. Some players' play was not at the level you wish it would have been."

However, Sutter wasn't going to let one bad game ruin what he believed was a positive week as far as the early stages of evaluating the players that ultimately will make up the roster of the team that represents Canada in Malmo, Sweden at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.

This week also marked a shift in philosophy for construction of the team, as Hockey Canada elected to move away from past practices of bringing in two teams' worth of players and having them play against each other in high-intensity intrasquad games. Instead, after two days of practicing in Brossard, Quebec, the team shifted here for games against the United States, Finland and Sweden.

"I think it's a great format for us," Sutter said. "I think the change was great. It's good to do what we did. You get a better read and better feel for guys. From my perspective, you're right with the group all the time, you're coaching the group. You get a better feel on the bench where guys are at and who might fit better with who. It's different when you go to a Red/White format; then your head coach isn't involved with coaching either team because you want to watch. When you're on the bench with the guys you get a better feel. The whole week has been great.

"[Saturday] you lose a hockey game, but at the same time you get to evaluate, too, and see the group do it together the whole week. There was a lot of positives coming out of this for the way it was set up and the format we did."

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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