Carey Price gets nod to start for Canada in World Cup opener
Coach Babcock satisfied Habs goalie has shaken off rust from injury layoff
Canada is turning to Carey Price for the World Cup of Hockey.
As expected, head coach Mike Babcock designated Price as Canada's starter for Saturday's tournament opener against the Czech Republic. He made the announcement following practice Friday afternoon at the Air Canada Centre.
Shea Weber, meanwhile, sat out the final practice before the tournament for maintenance, but will be ready to play Saturday, Babcock said.
Price has always been the presumed No. 1 for Team Canada. The lone question was the 29-year-old's readiness after a long layoff.
Price started and completed two of Canada's three exhibition games, including his first game action in nearly 10 months last Friday in Columbus.
He looked predictably rusty in that 4-2 loss to the Americans, yielding three goals on 24 shots. Babcock said the performance "wasn't Carey-like" for obvious reasons; Price hadn't played since late November after a knee injury cost him nearly all of last season with the Montreal Canadiens.
Babcock was satisfied with Price's second start against Russia on Wednesday night in which, appearing more at ease and more like the 2015 Vezina Trophy winner, he stopped 24-of-26 shots in a 3-2 overtime win.
Canada won 2 of 3 exhibition games
Canada was victorious in two-of-three exhibition games, generally dominant in each.
The Canadians kept the puck far more often than their foes from the United States and Russia, while surrendering only odd flurries in the defensive end. They outshot the two teams (playing USA twice) by a combined 129-74, including 99-52 at even-strength.
Canada fired more than 40 shots twice, including a 48-shot barrage against the Russians in the pre-tournament finale.
Despite those seemingly wide margins the games were mostly tight affairs, indicative, Babcock believed, of the tournament ahead.
Jake Muzzin and Claude Giroux skated as extras at practice Friday and will be scratched for the opener.
Canada is seeking its second straight World Cup title, albeit 12 years after the last one in 2004.