Canada semi-ready

Team Canada's Corey Perry (left to right) Sidney Crosby and Michael Richards arrive for a team...

Team Canada's Corey Perry (left to right) Sidney Crosby and Michael Richards arrive for a team practice at the World Junior Hockey tournament in Grand Forks, North Dakota Friday.(CP PHOTO/Jonathan Hayward)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:06 PM ET

Brent Sutter is of the the mind that a shorter bench is not a bad thing. However, Canada's coach knows he can't afford to lose any more players to injury or illness.

With defenceman Cam Barker gone because of mononucleosis and forward Jeremy Colliton out with a sprained knee, Canada's roster is down to 20 players -- two goalies, six defencemen and 12 forwards. In other words, it's the same number Sutter would ice if he was back in Red Deer, Alta., behind the bench of the Western Hockey League's Rebels.

"I've always wondered why there is a 22-man roster in the first place," Sutter said, referring to the fact 22 players are dressed for each game. "You're still basically only going to use 20 guys anyway."

Canada defenceman Brent Seabrook, who has been hassled by a sore shoulder since the evaluation camp in Winnipeg, skipped practice yesterday at Gambucci Arena here in Grand Forks, N.D.

Sutter warned not to read too much into that, even though Seabrook did not play in the third period in an 8-1 win against Finland on Thursday. Ryan Getzlaf slipped back to Seabrook's spot on the blue line.

Sutter said Seabrook is "fine" and should be ready to play tomorrow in the semi-final against the winner of the quarter-final between the Czech Republic and Finland.

Barker's departure was a bit of shocking bad news to the Canadians. A Chicago Blackhawks pick, Barker is one of two Canadian players -- Sidney Crosby is the other -- eligible to play in the 2006 world junior in Vancouver.

"We didn't get a chance to say goodbye to him," defenceman Danny Syvret said. "There are two games left, and to get struck with mono is pretty bad. I imagine next year he would be a big part of this team."

Barker's absence and the questionable status of Seabrook means Syvret will see a jump in his ice time. No trouble for Syvret, who gets a lion's share with the London Knights.

"It was tough early on to go from playing 40 (minutes a night) in London to 13 or 14 here," Syvret said. "I think I'll be playing more. It makes it easier to stay in the game, so hopefully I can take advantage of it."

As for Canada's next opponent, Sutter shrugged.

"It's irrelevant," Sutter said. "If you want to move on you have to play well. Every team is a tough team. Our goal is to reach the maximum of our potential every day."


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