Hockey Canada took a bit of a different approach to constructing its Olympic team than USA Hockey.
Without the aid of stars like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Drew Doughty and Carey Price, Canada will go for a gold-medal three-peat with former NHLers Ben Scrivens, Mason Raymond, Rene Bourque, Gilbert Brule, Wojtek Wolski and Chris Kelly. There are more names there that hockey fans will recognize than not, but it's not exactly what the past five Olympics have been like.
"I like the experience of our team,' coach Willie Desjardins said. "A lot of our guys have played in big situations. It's not their first time they're going to go into that kind of a pressure situation."
Whereas the United States has four college players on its roster — forwards Jordan Greenway, Troy Terry, Ryan Donato and defenseman Will Borgen — Canada's youngest player is 25-year-old forward Christian Thomas. Canada's roster has a combined 5,544 regular-season games of NHL experience
"Experience did win out and we were more confident with the players we know than hoping with some players that we didn't know," Hockey Canada vice president of hockey operations and national teams Scott Salmond said. "It's a man's game. And that's not to say that some of these kids aren't at the development stage where they could play with men, but what it does say is it takes some time to make that adjustment, I think, from whether it's the NCAA or the Canadian Hockey League to get up to speed to playing at that level with that size and strength factor. We don't have that time."
Canada has also prepared differently for the Olympics, playing in a handful of tune-up tournaments to pare down its roster. From those, it was clear Scrivens — who played parts of five seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens — was the front-runner to be the starter.
Fellow ex-NHL goalies Kevin Poulin and Justin Peters joined Scrivens on the roster. The U.S. is expected to have Kontinental Hockey League goaltender Ryan Zapolski as its starter and David Leggio and Brandon Maxwell, who are also playing professionally in Europe but have never been in the NHL.
"Brandon Maxwell, he's an elite puckhandling goaltender, and it's something that definitely factored into our discussions," U.S. general manager Jim Johannson said. "In David Leggio we got a guy that's been, No. 1, a great teammate everywhere he's been but also a very steady, consistent perfomer."
Salmond said Canada will gather Jan. 28 in Riga, Latvia, and play exhibition games against Latvia on Feb. 4 and Belarus on Feb. 6 before facing Sweden in Korea on Feb. 12. Canada opens the Olympics on Feb. 15.
The U.S. team is expected to get to Korea closer to the opening ceremony on Feb. 9.