While one major factor still stands in the way, it sounds as though Canadian Olympic coach Mike Babcock has already determined his plan of attack when Canada faces Norway on Feb. 13.
Babcock appeared on Sportsnet's Hockey Central at Noon ET on Tuesday and stated that he plans to split the goaltenders in the first two games. The coach did not reveal whether it would be Carey Price or Roberto Luongo acting as the last line of defense in the tournament's opening game, but did say that Game 3 would indicate the team's starter.
Babcock: Will split goalies in games 1 and 2. The guy they go with in Game 3 will probably run with it.— Hockey Central (@SNHockeyCentral) February 4, 2014
The goaltenders should have plenty of help on the backend. Babcock stated that he plans to dress seven defensemen.
Babcock plans to keep things simple in the forward group, pairing team members in "logical" combinations, such as Ryan Getzlaf with Corey Perry, and Jonathan Toews with Patrick Sharp. Team captain Sidney Crosby will be paired with Chris Kunitz in the opening game, but the other winger was not identified.
That could be due to the unknown status of Steven Stamkos, who is attempting to return from a broken right tibia sustained in November. Stamkos is planning on playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday against Babcock's Detroit Red Wings. The coach stated that he has been in contact with Steve Yzerman and plans to speak with Stamkos in person this week. Stamkos stated Monday that he plans to make his decision after Saturday's game.
In the event that Stamkos is unavailable, Claude Giroux, Eric Staal, James Neal and Martin St. Louis have been identified in the media as the primary candidates to replace him. Babcock did not address specific players in his interview but did mention that he, Yzerman and the Canadian committee discussed replacements Monday.