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Winter Olympics 2014: Men's Hockey Practice Lines & Rapid Reaction

Some rapid reactions to the lines at first practices yesterday in Sochi

Bruce Bennett

The men's hockey teams kicked off practice yesterday, here's a look at what the lines looked like for the big-4, and some rapid reaction.

CANADA

Kunitz Crosby Carter Keith Weber
Tavares Getzlaf Perry Vlasic Doughty
Sharp Toews Nash Bowmeester Pietrangelo
Benn Bergeron Marleau Hamhuis Subban
St. Louis Duchene

Not at all surprised to see Carter with Crosby & Kunitz, as it's a direction I expected them to go after Stamkos' injury. Carter is a proven scorer and a good defensive player. Tavares with Getzlaf and Perry is tantalizing but the lack of speed there worries me a little. I might personally try Duchene there rather than Tavares. I like Sharp and Toews with Nash a lot, as there's chemistry there going back to last Olympics with the latter two. Don't really see Benn in that fourth-line role, but obviously Bergeron and Marleau is an ideal tough-minutes duo. We'll see how things play out. I expect there to be changes.

UNITED STATES

Brown Kesler Kane Suter Fowler
van Riemsdyk Pavelski Kessel McDonagh Carlson
Parise Backes Oshie Martin Shattenkirk
Pacioretty Stastny Callahan Orpik Faulk
Stepan Wheeler

Bylsma is clearly going with a balanced lineup rather than separating by role, but I still don't understand many of these decisions (if these truly are the lines going into game Pacioretty and Brown should be swapped, at the very least. No idea why you are pairing your top defender in Suter with a young inexperienced lefty playing his off-side. I also think Faulk is a better defender than Fowler. And not sure what the point was in bringing Orpik if not to play him with Martin.

SWEDEN

Landescog Zetterberg Steen Ekman-Larsson Karlsson
D. Sedin Backstrom Eriksson Kronwall Jo. Ericsson
Nyquist Berglund Alfredsson Oduya Hjalmarsson
Hagelin Kruger Ji. Ericsson Tallinder Edler
Silfverberg Johansson

After shocking omissions and some injuries, Sweden's roster doesn't look as potent as it did in theory, but they can still do some damage. Backstrom with D. Sedin and Eriksson could be a potent offensive combination, and Ekman-Larsson with Karlsson is one of the top defense pairings in the tournament. No huge surprises with these lines.

RUSSIA

Ovechkin Malkin Semin Markov Voynov
Kovalchuk Datsyuk Radulov Belov Nikitin
Tarasenko Anisimov Kulemin Emelin Medvedev
Popov Tereschenko Tikhonov Nikulin Tyutin
Nichushkin Svitov

Nice (from a Russian perspective) to see Semin on the top line with Ovi and Malkin, with whom he's had success before. Not sure why he wasn't on the initial roster. They split up Markov and Emelin, which gives them a better top pairing but probably less balance. Markov and Voynov are going to have to play huge minutes.