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This article was published 16/9/2016 (1782 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TORONTO - Mike Babcock knows Carey Price will be his starting goaltender at the World Cup of Hockey. But the Canadian head coach still has various lineup questions that need to be answered.
Babcock declared Price his starter for Canada's opener against the Czech Republic after practice at the Air Canada Centre on Friday afternoon.
Price, 29, played in two of Canada's three exhibition games, including his first game action in nearly 10 months last Friday in Columbus.
Price looked predictably rusty in a 4-2 loss to the U.S., yielding three goals on 24 shots in a performance that Babcock said "wasn't Carey-like" for obvious reasons. Price hadn't played since late November after a sprained MCL in his right knee cost him all but 12 games for the Montreal Canadiens.
Babcock was satisfied with Price's second start against Russia on Wednesday night, where he looked more at ease, stopping 24-of-26 shots in a 3-2 overtime win.
It was enough to secure the starting gig on Saturday.
"It's just about getting minutes played and getting a few shots and getting the tempo of the game going," said Price, who won the Vezina Trophy in 2015.
His backup for the opener will be Corey Crawford, and not Braden Holtby, the 2016 Vezina Trophy winner.
More pressing for Babcock in the waning minutes of training camp, however, were matters up front and on the power play.
Babcock was happy with how John Tavares looked alongside Ryan Getzlaf during training camp, but was still debating whether Steven Stamkos or Corey Perry was a better fit at right wing. A prospective top unit of Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand looked good in exhibition as did the pairing of Jonathan Toews and Logan Couture.
The head coach had also settled on Ryan O'Reilly as his fourth line centre.
O'Reilly, who was added to the roster in place of the injured Tyler Seguin on Tuesday, filled an immediate need on the penalty kill, Babcock said. His addition bumped Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux from the lineup — joining defenceman Jake Muzzin in the press box. Muzzin's spot was claimed by another late add to the roster: Jay Bouwmeester, who replaced the injured Duncan Keith.
Toews and Bergeron both joined the ranks in the latest look on the power play with Bergeron positioned in the slot on a unit that included Crosby, Stamkos, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns. Toews connected with Tavares, Getzlaf, Perry and Drew Doughty.
Canada didn't get to practice one last time with a full defence. Shea Weber sat out Friday's workout for maintenance, but was expected to be ready for action on Saturday. The 31-year-old played a team-leading 22 minutes against the Russians on Wednesday night, the conclusion of a fairly dominant exhibition slate for Canada.
In winning two-of-three, the Canadians kept the puck far more often than their foes from the United States and Russia, while surrendering only odd flurries in the defensive end. They outshot the two teams (playing the Americans twice) by a combined 129-74, including 99-52 at even-strength.
Despite those seemingly wide margins, the games were mostly tight affairs, indicative of the tournament ahead.
Players were not inclined to look past their first opponent of the three-game preliminary round. The Czechs surprised some in winning two-of-three pre-tournament games, including a 3-2 decision over Team North America on Wednesday afternoon. If wildly short on firepower in contrast to the Canadians, the Czechs appear to be a cohesive group, propped up otherwise by better-than-average netminding from Philadelphia's Michal Neuvirth.
The team declined to say Friday whether Neuvirth or Petr Mrazek of the Detroit Red Wings would start against the Canadians.
Canada went undefeated at the last World Cup in 2004 and Doughty said that was the goal again this time around. His team was embracing a win-or-bust mentality.
"Obviously that's our goal is to win the whole thing," Doughty said. "And we're not going to be satisfied otherwise."