Hitch likes the mix

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

HALIFAX -- Ken Hitchcock wasn't out there teaching the trap.

"I don't think that's going to be a major part of this," laughed the Team Canada coach who has been known to prepare teams to squeeze the life out of games.

Not this time. Not this team.

This is going to be a go-go group. They're going to play fast, furious, gung-ho home team hockey.

"We have players as good as anybody in the tournament throughout the entire lineup. We can match any team in any area. So we're not going to go overboard concerning ourselves with defending against the other teams," said Hitchcock.

"We're going to play the Canadian game. If they beat us at our own game, so be it," the coach added after he ran his team through the first full practice, with everybody in town and on the ice, prior to tomorrow's opening day at the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Hitchcock has a lineup stacked with high-end young talent which can not only beat you with size and speed but will play with an edge. Team Canada is going to try to attack in waves, with high powered, fast-paced, high octane hockey to celebrate the first world hockey championship ever held in Canada and the100th anniversary of the IIHF.

TWO-WAY TIMES TWO

"We're going to have two high-pressure lines and two two-way lines.

"We're not going to restrict ourselves to two power plays combinations. We'll have three. We're not going to have four penalty killers, we'll have six or eight."

Hitchcock, who has Ryan Getzlaf, Rick Nash and Dany Heatley on the No. 1 line with Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Martin St. Louis on the No. 2 line, says he thinks the first line has just about every component that you'd want.

"Getzlaf's line has size, speed and plays the game nasty. We expect them to play at a high, hard level," he said.

With Spezza and Staal both centres few expected a "Triple S" unit to come out of the mix.

Staal decided to be the winger.

LIKES THE FREEDOM

"I said 'You guys figure it out,' " said Hitchcock. "Staal decided to do it because he likes the freedom to move."

Captain Shane Doan, Chris Kunitz and Jonathan Toews comprise the third line, with Jason Chimera, Patrick Sharp and Jamal Mayers together on the national grind line.

Toews, who turned 20 yesterday, is going to be a prime time player on this team, according to the coach.

"He's going to play five-on-five, play on the power play and do some penalty killing," said Hitchcock.

"He's going to be part of all the aspects. He'll even be out there when we're two men down.

"The big thing with the defenders is that there's a puck-mover on all three pairs," he added of the built-in transition game he sees with this squad which opens the tournament tomorrow afternoon against Slovenia.

Hitchcock says the key to winning this tournament is the extent your best players buy in to it.

"It's the engagement of the big players," he said. "If the big players take it very seriously, the entire team takes it seriously."


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