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02-28-2013, 01:41 PM
  #899
Frank the Tank
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Chicago, IL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by True Hockey Fan View Post
Richards is a question for sure. But he's the type of player I definitely want to be on team Canada. I'm not saying he should be on the team right now, but if not, then you should give the spot to a similiar player - Sharp might be a good fit, since he's a pretty solid two-way player, he is a versatile player and also familiar with Toews. Or you can go with Taylor Hall, J.Staal... you know, someone who can play hard, an energy player. I would consider even Hartnell, Iginla, Burrows or E. Kane for that role. Right now, I'd probably go with Hall or Sharp.
What made Richards and Nash flanking Toews effective in 2010 was their dogged puck pursuit and ability to win puck battles on the back check. That line tore apart the vaunted Ovechkin-Malkin-Semin line. Those Russian stars tended to start moving laterally as they his the neutral zone and the Toews line pressured Ovy and Malkin specifically right as the Canadian defense stood them up near the blue line, creating turnover after turnover. Two key goals, Canada-Russia (3-0) and Canada-USA (1-0), were created solely by Toews and Richards ability to strip opponents of the puck.

Speed and puck pursuit on the back check will be just as critical in Sochi 2014. Toews and Nash remain world class players in that regard, and if Richards still has it a year from now (I don't watch him much these days) then put him on that line. If not, go with a player that can enable them to replicate their Olympic performance from 2010.

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