[Photo Credit: Jeff Gross]
When the Canadian Olympic hockey team released their final roster, it was no surprise that Chris Kunitz was selected to play alongside Sidney Crosby; however, one question was left to be answered: who would play on the right side?
On Monday morning, that question was answered.
At Team Canada's practice, Jeff Carter of the Los Angeles Kings was the one playing alongside the two Penguins forwards. Crosby and Kunitz, who have combined for 133 points in 58 games this season, should have no issues adjusting to playing with the 6-foot-4 power forward.
Carter brings a dynamic style to the Crosby-Kunitz connection that has made Brian Gibbons and Pascal Dupuis look like NHL All-Stars at times. His size adds a grittiness factor to the line and will allow Crosby to be more aggressive in the offensive zone knowing that Carter will be winning a lot of battles in the corners. Carter has mainly played center for the Kings, but adjusting from center to wing is much easier than the other way around.
Back in 2012, the Columbus Blue Jackets traded Carter to the Los Angeles Kings for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first round draft pick. At the time, the Kings were dead last in the NHL in scoring and barely clinging to a playoff spot. The Kings would go on to win the Stanley Cup that year, and while Kings' goaltender Johnathan Quick got most of the praise, Carter was a big reason why L.A. went 16-4 in the playoffs.
Carter enters the Olympics in a scoring slump, but having who many consider the best player in the world as your center should surely break his scoring drought. After scoring in four consecutive games in late January for the Kings, Carter enters the Olympics going eight straight games without lighting the lamp.
Crosby and Kunitz aren't the only teammates who will be on a line together for Team Canada. Head coach Mike Babcock has also placed Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks on a line together, as well as Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks.
Dan Rosen, Senior Writer for NHL.com, tweeted Monday morning that the forward lines for Team Canada look like this:
Chris Kunitz – Sidney Crosby – Jeff Carter
Patrick Sharp – Jonathan Toews – Rick Nash
Patrick Marleau – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Jamie Benn – John Tavares – Patrice Bergeron
Martin St. Louis and Matt Duchene have been rotating throughout.
It's difficult to pick a top line on a roster that is absolutely packed with offensive talent, but Carter definitely won the line placement sweepstakes.
It's a shame that Steven Stamkos wasn't cleared to play due to injury, because he would most likely be the one playing alongside Crosby and Kunitz, which would be an incredible spectacle to witness.
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