With Tavares out, Duchene back at center for Canada
SOCHI -- It took an injury to one of Canada's numerous stars, but Matt Duchene will be back in his natural position Friday when the Canadians take on the United States in the 2014 Sochi Olympics semifinals at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
With John Tavares injured and ruled out for the rest of the tournament, Duchene, a healthy scratch Wednesday against Latvia, will play center between Rick Nash and Patrick Sharp on what is considered Canada's fourth line.
Duchene was a left wing on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in the two games he has played in the tournament. The 23-year-old Colorado Avalanche forward had no points, four shots on goal and averaged 13:50 of ice time per game.
"It's a big opportunity for myself now, a chance to play center, to play where I'm comfortable," Duchene said after practice Thursday. "You know, there's been a lot of unfamiliarity in this tournament, and when you get a short chance at it, sometimes it can be tough, so this is going to be much more familiar. I've played against Sharp and Nash a lot, and it looks like, well, we'll see what happens, but looks like it's going to be my line, and I'm looking forward to playing with them."
Duchene had to reach deep into his brain to figure out the last time he played in a game with as much meaning as the one Friday. The winner moves into the gold-medal game Sunday; the loser will be faced with playing for the bronze medal Saturday.
"Been a long time," Duchene said. "Internationally anyway, it was probably the semis or the gold-medal game in the under-18s in '08. That was in Russia as well, and we won gold in that tournament, so hopefully it's the same result here."