Defence scores points with play

By CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — Team Canada will get a medal Sunday, the colour is yet to be determined.

It is far from the seventh-place finish in Italy four years ago, and a big reason why has been the play of the defence.

Four years ago, it was old, slow-footed and unable to contribute offensively.

This time around: Younger, quicker and gifted offensively.

Consider the seven defencemen Team Canada took to Turin wound up with a combined total of seven points in six games.

Ottawa’s Dan Boyle has a chance to exceed that Sunday on his own.

Heading into the gold-medal game against the USA, the Canadian blue-line had combined for 27 points, with Boyle leading the way with six.

“As tournament has progressed we’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with each other and the system, ” said veteran defenceman Chris Pronger, a holdover from Italy.

He said finding the right pairings, and then finding a connection within those pairings, took time.

“Other than (Duncan) Keith and (Brent) Seabrook (of the Chicago Blackhawks), nobody plays together. That chemistry takes a little time, knowing where guys are going to be on the ice, when we get the puck, what we’re going to do with it,” said Pronger.

Team Canada coach Mike Babcock has had his defenceman jumping up and working a lot of give-and-gos once they gain the opponents blue line.

“Coach Babcock really harps on that and wants us to jump into the play,” said young defenceman Drew Doughty, who has just gotten better with every game.

FACT BOX

Canada’s defence, then and now...

(Goals, assists, points)

VANCOUVER

Dan Boyle 1-5-6

Shea Weber 2-3-5

Chris Pronger 0-5-5

Duncan Keith 0-5-5

Scott Niedermayer 1-2-3

Drew Doughty 0-2-2

Brent Seabrook 0-1-1

TURIN

Chris Pronger 1-2-3

Wade Redden 1-0-1

Rob Blake 0-1-1

Adam Foote 0-1-1

Robyn Regehr 0-1-1

Bryan McCabe 0-0-0

Jay Bouwmeester 0-0-0

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

POLL