San Jose, St. Louis and Tampa Bay Olympic Previews

San Jose Sharks - Fear The Fin

Pack Your Bags

Evgeni Nabokov:

Evgeni Nabokov is a no-brainer for the Russian team this winter, and will likely be starting between the pipes as he did during their fourth place outing in Turin where he went 5-2 with a 1.34 GAA. His recent success at the 2008 World Championships where Russia won gold, along with his stellar play during the first two months of the 2009-2010 NHL season, also add to his credentials. Competing for his job will be Illya Bryzgalov and Semyon Varlamov, with Nikolai Khabilbulin looking to be on the fringe as of this moment considering he is dealing with back trouble and has not played as well as the aforementioned three. Two veteran netminders should be able to shoulder the immense load on a Russian team expected to play for the gold medal in what stands to be a boisterous Canadian arena. The potential seasoning of Varlamov (along with his excellent play) will be an enticing opportunity for the Russian brass to consider, as it will concurrently set the team up for another bid at the 2014 games in Sochi*.

Patrick Marleau

Coming off a 38 goal year, Patrick Marleau has once again shot the lights out, posting 19 goals and 33 points in 29 games during the 2009-2010 season. Going into Team Canada's development camp last summer it was uncertain whether or not he would be able to crack the squad-- an offseason filled with off-ice extracurriculars concerning his leadership abilities and "heart" in high pressure situations (views that were never shared by this author, nor the majority of readers at Fear The Fin) contributed to that, along with the astonishing depth of the Canadian national team. However, with what's shaping up to be another strong year for Marleau, his inclusion onto the roster is but a phone call away.

St. Louis Blues - St. Louis Game Time

Jay McClement, Canada
With his combination of speed, hard work, determination and Zen-like ability to control his emotions in the game, Silent Jay should pack his bags for Vancouver. And when we say pack his bags, we mean he needs to put his cross country skis and rifle in travel bags so he can participate in the biathlon. Ah, the biathlon. It combines the obscure sports of cross country skiing and shooting. The biathlon requires the participants to ski as fast as they can for long stretches then stop and hit small targets at distance with their rifle. That requires the shooter to slow his breathing and heartbeat to get a steady bead on the target. McClement is perfect for it.

Paul Kariya, Canada
One of the fastest and agile skaters on the Blues with a combination of sparkling moves and aversion to contact, Kariya should pack his bags. And he should make sure to include his skates that have toe picks. Kariya is the perfect ice dancer. Just add sequins.

T.J. Oshie, USA
Backwards hat, check. Frosted hair tips, check. Wild energy, check. Reckless abandon, double check. Oshie will be a hit in freestyle snowboarding, preferably the half pipe. Tell me he's not the prototypical snowboarder. Plus he'd guarantee a sellout and hundreds of screaming 16-year-olds.

Tampa Bay Lightning - Raw Charge

Canada

The problem with picking players for Canada is that Canadians make up over 50% of the players in the NHL. The talent pool is just so large that they could literally field three teams – and have at least two of them medal. So with competition for spots being so fierce, drastic decisions will be made. Guys who would be a shoe-in for any other national team won’t make it on to Team Canada.

InSteven Stamkos. You’ve got to believe that, with the start he’s had so far this season, he’ll be on the team. And probably as a center (or centre, if you will), which is one of the most competitive positions on the roster. Though, the option may also be there for him to play wing, if necessary. Stamkos has played in a World Juniors Championship and a World Championship.

BubbleMartin St. Louis. Normally, he’d be on this squad in a heartbeat. But having scored only five goals so far this season, it’s hard to say for sure that he will be. If they’re looking for leadership and a character guy who can contribute in a supportive role, then he will. If they’re looking for just goal scoring, then he won’t. Only the fact that the majority of wingers scoring goals in the NHL this season are left wingers is keeping him in the mix, since Marty plays right wing. He has played for Canada in a World Cup, two World Championships, and on their 2006 Olympic team.

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