Hockey Canada has released the list of 47 players invited to the Team Canada Orientation Camp in preparation for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Of note to Canadiens fans is the fact that Carey Price and P.K. Subban both received invitations.
At the start of last season I was hoping/counting on Carey to be routinely, effortlessly excellent and thus to take a stranglehold on the Canadian Olympic team starting job. And, I thought that if P.K. played hard and kept his nose clean, he'd be able to build on that this season, and with another strong start in 2013, he might squeak in as a seventh defenceman.
How things changed. Carey is in a horse race, having let the other competitors eat away at his lead, he's now neck and neck with five other guys. Roberto Luongo, if he has any success with the Canucks early next season, will be very hard to dislodge from the starting job, being the incumbent and gold-medal winner from 2010. Corey Crawford, fresh off his conquest of the Stanley Cup, will be a formidable opponent as well. Carey has his plate full
Meanwhile, P.K. is going to force people to think up reasons if they want to not include him on the 2014 team. His skating and familiarity with the big ice surface after his junior career in Belleville, and his quality two-way play should overcome any objections based on 'chemistry' or inexperience or the fact that he's a rightie. He hits, he skates like the wind, being quick and fast, he's strong on the puck, he has a cannon on the blue line, and has greatly improved his play selection on the powerplay or generally in the offensive zone, some of Andrei Markov's magical moves having rubbed off on him. Pylons like Dion Phaneuf and slower veterans like Dan Boyle and Marc Méthot won't be obstacles, but ultimately, if he continues this season like he did last year, there's no reasonable way to keep him off the roster. Is there?