Team Canada looks like one of the most fearsome squads to compete in the World Cup of Hockey. They have earned the right to be seen as a powerhouse, as their roster is full of Stanley Cup champions and some of the best players the NHL has to offer.
Canada has recently started practicing and while the line combinations are far from set, it’s intriguing to see which players are being matched together. Let’s take a close look at some of the early line combos and what each player brings to the table.
For more World Cup of Hockey coverage, check out the main page right here.
Line 1: Bergeron-Crosby-Marchand
This line features three Stanley Cup champions. The most recent winner would be Sidney Crosby, as he led his Pittsburgh Penguins to the trophy this past May. Flanking him on either side are Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, a couple of teammates with the Boston Bruins.
Crosby put in fantastic numbers this year, including 36 goals and 85 points in the regular season and 19 points in 24 playoff games en route to winning the championship. He is also the most recent Conn Smythe trophy recipient, which is given to the playoff MVP.
Patrice Bergeron is a defensive-minded scoring forward who nicely complements both Crosby and Marchand. He’s a three-time Frank J. Selke winner and also has Olympic experience playing and winning for Team Canada.
— Jay (@Jason_vh88) August 1, 2016
Marchand is an interesting case. Team Canada seems to have been built with speed in mind and Marchand fits the bill. The speedy forward can burn you a number of ways including getting under your skin with a chirp or sniping home a goal. He had a career-high 37 goals and 61 points this past season.
Line 2: Couture-Toews-Stamkos
This might be the line that I’m the most excited about. The head honcho is easily Jonathan Toews, who is a multiple Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal winning centre. He’s one of the best players in the NHL today and is looked upon as a leader and game breaker whenever he hits the ice.
For Steve Stamkos, the World Cup will be a very special occasion. He was on track to play with Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but a broken leg squandered his chances. He went into an intense rehab session and very nearly made the comeback in time. Stamkos is an elite player who should finish off the numerous chances that Toews and Logan Couture will provide.
Speaking of Couture, the former Ottawa 67 got a taste of what it’s like to play for the Stanley Cup this past spring. His San Jose Sharks were defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Couture had a very impressive showing putting up an even 30 points in 24 playoff games.
Line 3: Tavares-Getzlaf-Perry
In a tournament as short as the World Cup, chemistry among linemates will be crucial. Team Canada has addressed this early on by playing Bergeron and Marchand on the same line. They also made a move and stuck Anaheim teammates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry together.
Yep. Corey Perry is Canada's 13th forward per lines today. Six-time 30-goal guy, including 50 goals in 2010-11. #loaded
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) September 5, 2016
Both play on the same line with the Ducks, which can only be seen as a positive going into the World Cup. Perry was actually a late addition to the squad, as an injury to LA Kings forward Jeff Carter opened up a spot. Perry is a bit like the aforementioned Marchand. He can be a huge pest on the ice, but he has the skill to compensate. Getzlaf is as steady as they come. He’s a prototypical power forward who can play responsibly in all three zones.
The final member of this line is former Canadian junior star, John Tavares. Tavares, the current captain of the New York Islanders, is one of the brightest young players in the league today. He put up 33 goals and 70 points this past year and is a driven and extremely talented addition to the squad.
Line 4: Duchene-Giroux-Thornton
The fourth line (if we can even call it that), features some incredible speed and skill. Matt Duchene is arguably one of the fastest players in the NHL today. Duchene has an Olympic gold medal on his resume and is no slouch in the regular season either, scoring a career-high 30 goals this year.
What if I asked you which player has the most points since the start of the 2011-12 season? If you guessed Philadelphia Flyers forward, Claude Giroux, you’d be correct. The slick forward had 22 goals and 67 points this past season.
The final man on the wing is none other than Joe Thornton, who was a member of the Canadian team that won gold when the World Cup was last played all the way back in 2004. Thornton is one of the best playmakers in the NHL today and nearly willed the Sharks to their first ever Stanley Cup this past spring.
You may be wondering where Tyler Seguin fits into these combinations. Hockey Canada announced he was sick and will miss the practices and work due to illness. Seguin has been a monster the last few years and should easily slot into any line he’s placed on.
Team Canada’s forward group is as deep as they come in this tournament. Developing quick chemistry is key and it will be interesting to see how all these players respond when the pressure is on.