Monday, January 6, 2014
Hawks to learn Olympic fates Tuesday
By Scott Powers
Almost half of the players on the Chicago Blackhawks roster will find out Tuesday whether they’ve been selected to play for their respective countries in the upcoming Olympics.
Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews will find out if they've been named to Team Canada on Tuesday.
It’s a day Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was excited about for his players.
“I think it’s something you look forward to,” Quenneville said on Sunday. “I think I’m looking forward to the same type of anticipation a lot of our players have. It’ll be a fun day for a lot of guys. We’ll see how it plays itself out. I look at it at the bright side of things. It’ll be something to look forward.”
With Patrick Kane already named to the U.S. roster and Michal Rozsival named to the Czech Republic roster, here’s a look at the Blackhawks who could be joining him in Sochi:
Corey Crawford, goaltender, Canada: Crawford’s chances likely went out the door after he suffered an injury and had to miss nearly a month of action. His numbers were also more impressive last season. He’s lacked the same consistency this season.
Niklas Hjalmarsson, defenseman, Sweden: Hjalmarsson was left off Sweden’s Olympic team in 2010, but that isn’t expected to happen again. Hjalmarsson has been a key defenseman in both of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup championships and has improved his offensive game. He has four goals, 14 assists and career-high 18 points this season.
Marian Hossa, forward, Slovakia: Hossa is a lock for the Olympics. He’ll turn 35 on Sunday, but he’s still one of the NHL’s top two-way players. This will mark his fourth Olympics.
Duncan Keith, defenseman, Canada: Keith is also a lock for Canada. He’s playing at the top of his game. He leads all defensemen with 42 points and 39 assists. His assists place him third overall in the league.
Marcus Kruger, forward, Sweden: Kruger is less of a long shot now than he was to start the season. He’s improved his stock by becoming reliable at the dot. Kruger has gone from a 46.2 faceoff percentage last season to being eighth in the league with a 57 percentage. He’s also considered one of the league’s best penalty-kill forwards.
Johnny Oduya, defenseman, Sweden: Oduya played for Sweden in the 2010 Olympics, but some experts don’t think he’ll make the team this time around. One benefit in picking Oduya would be keeping him and Hjalmarsson together. That defensive pairing has often been placed on the ice against top lines this season.
Brent Seabrook, defenseman, Canada: Seabrook is considered another bubble player. He played for Team Canada in 2010. Like Hjalmarsson and Oduya for Sweden, Seabrook could be paired with Keith for Canada. Seabrook has five goals, 26 assists and a plus-22 rating this season.
Patrick Sharp, forward, Canada: Coming into the season Sharp was considered on the bubble for Team Canada, but a lot of people believe he has earned himself a definite spot with his stellar play this season. He’s second in the league with 26 goals and tied for sixth with 46 points. Canada may look to keep him and Jonathan Toews together on a line.
Jonathan Toews, forward, Canada: Toews is a lock for Team Canada. He remains one of the league’s best two-way players.