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SOCHI, February 11. /ITAR-TASS/. The Canadian ice hockey team will definitely make its way to the final of the 2014 Winter Games in Russia’s Sochi, but it would be better not to face the Russian squad in the decisive Olympic match, Canada’s Patrick Marleau said on Tuesday.
The 25-strong Canadian squad, led by Captain Sidney Crosby from Pittsburgh Penguins, consists solely of NHL players with their aggregate annual salary of $160 million. The team boasts seven NHL captains and 11 Stanley Cup champions.
Marleau, who plays for NHL’s San Jose Sharks, said that although Canada is considered to be one of the favorites to win the Games, one should always bear in mind that there are strong teams from Russia, the United States, the Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden.
The 34-year-old forward of reigning Olympic ice hockey champion Canada said it would have been better for him if his team played in the final against some other squad rather than Russia to avoid pressure from the Russian fans at their home arena.
The Russian team plays at home and if it makes it to the finals the players will be literally "dying" on the ice to win, Marleau said.
Speaking about the strongest player on the Russian squad, Marleau named Alexander Ovechkin from NHL’s Washington Capitals adding that if “Alex” caught up on the right wave in decisive games other teams would only suffer.
The Canadian team arrived in Sochi on Monday and despite the jet lag caused by nine-hour flight as well as nine hour time difference Head Coach Mike Babcock decided to put them for a training session at 8:00 p.m. local time.
Canada has been placed in Group B along with teams from Norway, Austria and Finland, and the Canadians will play their opening Sochi Olympic match against Norway on February 13.