The Dallas Stars were scheduled to practice at 10:30 Friday morning, but they’ve decided to get on the ice at 9:30 instead. That way they’ll have things wrapped up in time to watch tomorrow’s Olympic semifinals showdown between the United States and Canada.
“It’s going to be an exciting one. I know we’ve got practice a little early so we can all watch the game after,” said defenseman Brenden Dillon. “Both teams have done really well in the tournament, both are really skilled and it’s going to be fun.”
It didn’t take long for the bantering between the Canadians and the Americans on the team to start once the players returned from the Olympic break.
“I think the past two days with the curling and the women’s gold medal game, you are starting to hear guys yapping at each other,” said Stars assistant coach James Patrick. “As a sports fan or a hockey player you can feel the tension with the women playing and it’s 0-0 halfway through the game. As fans we’re all nervous.”
And the Stars players will be fans tomorrow. The Canadians will be pulling for captain Jamie Benn and coach Lindy Ruff to get by the USA to advance to Sunday’s gold medal game.
“We’ve got a lot to cheer for, us Canadian guys, obviously with Benny being over there and Lindy,” said Dillon.
“I am a Canadian. It should be a great game,” said forward Alex Chiasson. “I played with [Team USA defenseman Kevin] Shattenkirk in college, he’s still a good friend of mine, but I am Canadian all the way and I hope they win.”
Defenseman Alex Goligoski and forward Erik Cole are the Americans on the Stars’ roster.
“For those of us back here there is a bunch of general ribbing going on,” Cole said. “I am sure if the Canadians lose there will be a pretty quiet group in here tomorrow and the few Americans we have on the team and amongst the training staff will certainly let them hear about it all day long.”
Goligoski, who predicted a 4-2 USA victory, said the Canadians have been unusually quiet the past couple days.
“There’s usually a lot of banter for a game like this, at least I remember last time there was, but the Canadians have kept pretty quiet. They might not feel it is a lock this time,” Goligoski said. “We’ll see.”
Dillon shrugged off Goligoski’s comment.
“Of course they are going to say that,” Dillon said. “The USA is going to be looked at as the underdog because Canada won last time. They’re going to be looking for revenge and you are only as good as your last game and the last time with the two, Canada won. That’s all that Goose and Colesy need to know.”
Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas said he’d be willing to place a bet, but there’s one problem.
“There are not enough Americans to bet,” He said with a laugh. “We have an early practice tomorrow so we can watch the game. I am sure everybody will be around to watch it, so it will pretty fun.”
*Stars captain Jamie Benn is expected to again play on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry for Canada in Friday’s semifinal game against the United States.
*Tuukka Rask is expected to start in goal for Finland against Sweden in the other semifinal game. Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen is the likely backup.
*New York Islanders center John Tavares will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury he suffered in Canada’s quarterfinals win over Latvia on Wednesday.
Friday’s semifinal games
Sweden vs. Finland, 6:00 a.m., NBC Sports Network
USA vs. Canada, 11:00 a.m., NBC Sports Network
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.