The Carolina Hurricanes held another long practice today which was comprised of extra work on breakouts as well as a variety of other hard-skating drills. The players went at it full speed and got a good 90 minute workout in under their belts.
At the end of practice, they ran a shootout drill in which the players split up into different groups. If the shooter made his shot, then his group did not have to skate. If he missed, of course he skated with his group. The usual suspects were successful as Ray Whitney and Jussi Jokinen were included in the finals. But Aaron Ward, Rod Brind`Amour and Joe Corvo made some nice moves as well.
There was a lot of whooping and yelling when newcomer Alex "Pico" Picard took his turn, but the defenseman missed high on his attempt.
Manny Legace and practice goaltender, Jorge Alvarez were between the pipes. Previously injured Scott Walker and Chad LaRose participated fully in practice and looked good to go. Erik Cole wore the yellow, "don't touch me" jersey and there is no update on his status.
After practice was completed, I had the opportunity to ask a few of the players who they felt would win gold this weekend. If you know where the players are from, their answers are not very surprising.
Brandon Sutter: Obviously, I'm pulling for Canada. I think they will win it. (Sutter went home to Alberta over the break to relax with family).
Joe Corvo: USA, all the way.
Aaron Ward: You have three teams with a legitimate chance to win it all, USA, Finland, and Canada. Slovakia is good, but I don't think they have much of a chance. Any of those three could win. Canada is a completely different team now than they were in their first two games. USA is undefeated and has confidence going for them. Finland has an overall solid team. But If I have to choose, I'm going to say that USA gets by Canada in the final.
Patrick Dwyer: I think it will be a USA/Canada final and it could go either way. I'd like to see USA win it though.
Erik Cole: Pick one? I can't pick. But I am hoping that USA wins.
Manny Legace: I'm pulling for Canada.
Jussi Jokinen: I like Finland's chances.
Andrew Alberts: What time is that game on this afternoon, 3? It's going to be good, I will be laying on the couch, watching that one. Finland has a very good team, but USA will out-work anybody. I think they will win it today and go all the way against Canada.
Tripp Tracy: It amazes me the parity of hockey players in the world, and not just in the NHL. There are just so many good players out there. But I think Canada will win gold.
The team is off Saturday but will be back on the ice at the Rec Zone, Sunday at 11.
We will be using this article for the open game thread for both semi-final games today unless it gets too big, then we will create another one.