According to TSN, John Tavares will miss the remainder of the tournament with an apparent leg injury. As amazing as this may sound, the absence of a Hart Trophy contender isn't all that daunting to Canada's chances of advancing in the tournament in the wake of their surprisingly narrow 2-1 victory over Latvia.
After all, this team has a wealth of talent at their fingertips, and can replace Tavares without much effort. With Matt Duchene. And despite their inability to secure a second goal until late in the third period today, that should at the very least get the attention of Dan Bylsma and Team USA.
Duchene, who was described by this space as one of the potential breakout performers of this tournament prior to the opening ceremonies, has struggled to stay in the Canadian lineup through four games. He has dressed for only two of those thus far, and has recorded four shots.
As the team's fourth line center, which feels damn-near blasphemous to write, Tavares has yet to record a point despite dressing in all four games and has averaged just under 11 minutes of time on ice per game. Granted, he's playing a far more defensive role than most players on that team. That must be stated.
Duchene will likely step in to his spot in the lineup, but in the two games, he's averaged roughly 14 minutes and played a far more offensive role. In fact, Duchene was taking rushes in practice on Tuesday on Jamie Benn's wing along with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.
Patrice Bergeron, who had been skating on the top unit with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, seems like a logical replacement for the fourth line role considering that year when he won the Selke Trophy as the league's top defensive forward. And with players citing Crosby's incredibly fast tempo as a reason his stats have been down so far this tournament, Duchene would represent an option that is certainly not lacking pace.
Here he is absolutely toasting Team Canada teammate Jay Bouwmeester:
Playing him on Crosby's wing could unearth the massive glut of offensive talent we all expected to see from this team. Playing the Canadian captain with over six different wingers through four games has hardly worked, so what's one more?
Looking at Friday's matchup now, it's clear the Americans are playing far better hockey than any team left in the tournament and are considered the most likely to keep Canada from succesfully defending their gold medal. But if Duchene is given a chance to play on Team Canada's top unit, it could be the surge of offense they've somehow been lacking.
And that should scare the hell out of a lot of red, white and blue-clad hockey fans.