Projected Stats for Each Montreal Canadien in Sochi
Team Canada and Russia both feature two members of the Montreal Canadiens, while Slovakia, the Czech Republic and the USA each have one.
Predicting how each will do is not an easy task, as it remains to be seen how each player will be used by his coach. Players need to be given the opportunity to perform, yet not everyone can play 20 minutes each game for their nation's all-star team.
Taking into account how each member of the Montreal Canadiens will likely be used in Sochi, here are their projected stats.
Max Pacioretty, USA
Max Pacioretty is having another fine season for the Montreal Canadiens, having already potted 26 goals in 50 games. There is little doubting his ability to score.
But what kind of opportunity will he be given to do so for for Team USA?
Coach Dan Bylsma had Pacioretty skating on the fourth line at the team's first practice, according to Nicholas Goss at NESN. His linemates were Paul Stastny and Ryan Callahan. Generally, the fourth line will see 10-12 minutes of ice time, limiting Pacioretty's chances to score.
Pacioretty is also coming off an injury scare from Montreal's last game against the Carolina Hurricanes, where he went hard into the post while driving the net. He had to leave the game and did not return. He practiced in full on Monday, however, and has declared himself ready to play, via Scott Burnside of ESPN.
Projecting Pacioretty's stats all comes down to how much ice time he will see, both at even strength and on the power play. Early on in the tournament, it appears as though he won't be logging heavy minutes.
Bylsma, like all coaches in Sochi, won't hesitate to shake up the lines if things aren't going as planned. Pacioretty will likely be given the first crack at top-six minutes if one of the starting wingers struggles early.
Expect Pacioretty to score an early round-robin goal and force his coach into giving him more playing time. He will be a factor for Team USA.
Final stats: three goals, one assist, even plus/minus rating.
Peter Budaj, Slovakia
Peter Budaj has accepted life as a backup in the later part of his career. He understands his role on the Montreal Canadiens and has found success behind Carey Price.
Expect Budaj to play the exact role for Slovakia. And seeing as every game will be very important for the Slovaks, Budaj won't be getting a single start.
Slovakia plays the U.S., Russia and Slovenia in its pool. The Slovaks only chance to upset one of the powerhouses will be if Jaraslov Halak turns in a 2010-type performance.
Assuming the Americans and Russians win, Slovakia's game against Slovenia will be a must-win, unless it wants to risk being ranked 11th or 12th heading into the qualification round. Halak will again start against Slovenia.
Should Slovakia advance to the quarterfinals, Halak will again be in a goal. Don't expect Budaj to see the ice, barring injury or mop-up duty.
Final Stats: Nothing to report due to zero playing time.
Alexei Emelin, Russia
In Montreal, Alexei Emelin gets paired with his country-mate Andrei Markov on a nightly basis. One would assume they will also play together in Sochi. Yet it doesn't seem that coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov likes the all-Montreal combination.
Coach Bilyaletdinov had Emelin skating on Russia's third pairing with KHLer Evgeny Medvedev at the team's first practice on Monday, according to Mike Johnston at Sportsnet. This will obviously impact Emelin's stat line, as Markov is Russia's clear No. 1 defender.
Markov will see heavy minutes at even strength and on the power play. Many of those minutes will come with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin on the ice together.
Emelin will likely see something in the neighborhood of 15 minutes per game and probably won't be a part of the power-play rotation.
Things can and will change, but for now, Emelin is projected as a third-pairing defender.
Final Stats: zero goals, one assist, plus-one.
Andrei Markov, Russia
Andrei Markov is set for a heavy workload for Team Russia. He is the obvious top defenseman on the squad. He'll likely be used in excess of 25 minutes per night.
Markov was paired with Slava Voynov of the Los Angeles Kings at the team's first practice on Monday, according to Mike Johnston of Sportsnet. Whether or not they remain partners will not affect Markov's usage—he's Russia's top guy.
Markov will also see heavy power-play minutes on what could be the tournament's most dangerous unit. He'll have plenty of opportunities to rack up points and could finish the Olympic Games as the top-scoring defenseman.
Final Stats: one goal, six assists, plus-three.
Tomas Plekanec, Czech Republic
Tomas Plekanec is the captain of Team Czech Republic. He'll also be the top-line center, according to Roman Jedlicka of TV Nova Sport:
Czech 1st line for #Sochi2014 hockey tournament will be as we all expected: Jagr - Plekanec - Cervenka.— Roman Jedlicka (@jedli) February 10, 2014
There is no doubt that Plekanec will be leaned on heavily by coach Alois Hadamczik. He'll be used in all situations, which will include plenty of power-play minutes. His ability to contribute offensively will play a big role in the Czech Republic's success.
Final Stats: two goals, three assists, plus-one.
P.K. Subban, Canada
Team Canada's defense is loaded with talent. It is so good that coach Mike Babcock is going to have a hard time finding ice time for the reigning Norris Trophy winner.
P.K. Subban is currently fourth on the depth chart as a right-handed defender. This doesn't come as a surprise to anyone. Shea Weber, Alex Pietrangelo and Drew Doughty will start out as part of the top-six, according to Mike Johnston at Sportsnet.
In the NHL, this would usually mean watching from the press box. According to IIHF rules, however, teams can dress 20 skaters as opposed to the 18 permitted by the NHL. Canadian teams will generally dress 13 forwards and seven defensemen.
Subban and Dan Hamhuis are currently Canada's extra pairing, but because of Subban's superior offensive skill set, expect him to dress as the seventh defenseman early on in the tournament.
He'll likely be given a chance to show what he can do on the power play and could see a somewhat regular shift toward the ends of the round-robin games against Norway and Austria. He should be able to find the scoresheet a couple of times.
Final Stats: one goal, two assists, plus-one.
Carey Price, Canada
Carey Price or Roberto Luongo? The debate rages on. Coach Babcock offered no hints as to who would be his starter at the team's first practice on Monday.
We know this much: Canada plays in back-to-back games against Norway and Austria on February 13 and 14, respectively. Both Price and Luongo will get starts in each of those games. Whoever is named the starter for Canada's February 16 game against Finland will likely be the starter for the playoff round.
Heading into the tournament, Price clearly has the edge statistically. Here are the stats of both goaltenders over the last six regular-season NHL games:
Carey Price: seven goals against. He’s stopped 167 of the 174 shots he’s faced in that span, a save percentage of .960. He also has two shutouts.
Roberto Luongo: 21 goals against. He's stopped 154 of the 175 shots he's faced in that span, a save percentage of .880.
But Luongo has the experience factor. He won gold with Babcock in 2010. This is Price's first Olympics and the biggest stage he has ever been on.
Babcock's decision on the starting goalie against Finland will likely come at the last possible moment. He will evaluate how the two play against Norway and Austria. Those teams are not going to pose a threat to Canada. It's doubtful either goalie will be seriously challenged.
So who does Babcock go with against Finland? The hot hand of Price has to outweigh the experience of Luongo.
Price gets the nod and carries Canada to gold.
Final Stats: five wins, 2.10 goals-against average, .935 save percentage, two shutouts.
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