Team Canada comes into the 2014 Olympics as one of the favorites to win the gold medal in men’s ice hockey. It would be a repeat performance from their overtime victory against the USA in Vancouver four years ago, and they’ve made a gigantic step to live up to those expectations at practice by putting Shea Weber and Duncan Keith together as the top defensive pairing.
It’s hard enough for opposing teams to get to the front of the net with just one of those players patrolling the blue line. Pairing them is no doubt giving nightmares to the forwards on the other national teams in the tournament. Even though coach Mike Babcock could change the pairing at any moment, speculating them as the top tandem should give Canadians a gigantic, hopeful smile.
Weber, who is the captain of the Nashville Predators, is second on his team with 38 points and has scored 15 goals already this season. At 6-foot-4, 233-pounds, he is a huge body and knows how to hit. On a mediocre Predators team, he has been the best player, regardless of position. Last year in the abbreviated campaign, he led his team in scoring overall and is previously a 20-goal scorer. Though he has a penchant for scoring, he has been one of the best defenders in the league the past several years, earning himself nominations for the Norris Trophy.
Speaking of the Norris, Duncan Keith won the award in 2010. Though Keith isn’t as big as Weber or as much of an offensive-defenseman, he has been instrumental in both of the Stanley Cup championships the Chicago Blackhawks have won recently. This year, he has been setting up teammates, racking up 45 assists. That’s only 10 off his career high.
Both defensemen were part of the 2010 gold-medal squad along with a good portion of the current roster. Keith would be able to play the role of a stay-at-home defenseman which would allow Weber to jump up into the play when the situation arose. Of course, with players like Sidney Crosby, John Tavares and Corey Perry among others, the Canadians may not even need help from the defense in the goal-scoring department.