Canada's Ben Scrivens will start against Denmark and may have an opportunity to claim the No. 1 goaltender job at the world hockey championship in Belarus.
The Edmonton Oilers netminder allowed one goal on 24 shots in beating Slovakia on Saturday in the first international game of his career. James Reimer of the Toronto Maple Leafs stopped 57 of the 62 shots he faced in his two games: a shootout loss to France and a victory over the Czech Republic.
Coach Dave Tippett said he didn't know if those goaltenders split the next two games, given that Canada plays back-to-back against Denmark and then Italy on Friday.
"They each got two, we'll revisit tomorrow night," Tippett said after Wednesday's practice at Chizhovka-Arena.
Justin Peters of the Carolina Hurricanes is the third goaltender on the roster. Tippett hasn't revealed if the veteran would get a start in Minsk.
Despite two days off since holding on to beat the Czechs on Monday, Tippett was insistent his team get two practices in before getting back into game action. He was satisfied with what got accomplished as far as teaching and learning.
"We got some good work in, just a little bit of tactical stuff, a little bit of special-teams stuff," Tippett said. "It's a good couple days, and now we jump into back-to-back games."
After three games, Canada is in second place in Group A with seven points. Sweden, which is undefeated but needed a shootout to beat the Czech Republic, is in first with eight points.
On paper, Denmark and Italy aren't the biggest challenges for Canada, but an opening loss to France showed players nothing is guaranteed at this tournament. Tippett said those teams like to keep it tight and are hard to play against.
But with a roster of all NHL players, the next couple results likely hinge more on how Canada plays. It's Tippett's hope that his team is better than it was in the third period against the Czech Republic, when it almost let a three-goal lead slip away.
"We got to do a much better job with the puck and holding the puck," he said. "We had so many turnovers, even in the offensive zone. We didn't give ourselves a chance to play in the offensive zone. I thought, actually, our defending was decent — we just defended too much."
Special teams focus
With that in mind, Vancouver Canucks defenceman Jason Garrison pointed to offensive-zone play as an area of focus the past two days. What made Canada's Sochi Olympic team so good defensively was being on the attack so often, and it's a recipe this group would like to replicate.
"I think it's just learning how to play that style [on the big ice]," Garrison said. "There's a couple different things that we're being taught out here, and it's helping out. It's helping the forwards kind of gain possession and keep possession in the offensive zone and then it leads to scoring chances instead of just one [shot] and out."
The Canadians were outshot 34-20 by the Czech Republic and could thank Reimer for keeping them in the game early and saving them late. Two power-play goals thanks to a five-minute major on Czech forward Jan Kovar for slashing Canadian captain Kevin Bieksa helped, but after also giving up another goal on the penalty kill, special teams is an area of emphasis, as well.
"We scored a couple power-play goals, but we obviously could've capitalized a lot more," Nashville Predators defenceman Ryan Ellis said. "I think that and the PK are going to be big parts of our game moving forward, and our penalty kill I think we've let a goal in every game, so I think that's something we're going to have to kind of shore up here and really bear down. Obviously staying out of the box is a big part of that, but when we do get down, just killing them off."
Canada has a tournament-worst 60 per cent success rate on the penalty kill and is just 3 for 16 on the power play.
Players also worked on the shootout at the end of Wednesday's practice. Kyle Turris, Sean Monahan and Matt Read — the three best percentage shooters on the team based on this past regular season — went 0-for-3 against France's Cristobal Huet last week.
Denmark, meanwhile, features four NHL players in defenceman Philip Larsen of the Oilers, forwards Jannik Hansen and Nicklas Jensen of the Canucks and winger Mikkel Boedker of the Phoenix Coyotes.