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The Colorado Avalanche: News from around the NHL - February 12th, 2014

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Martin Rose

Defending Big D has a preview of Team Sweden.

A sizable veteran presence, but Sweden will be balancing that with a good infusion of youth. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Erik Karlsson, Gabriel Landeskog, and Carl Hagelin will all be making their first appearances for Sweden in the Olympics. In fact, that mix of veteran leadership and young blood could be one of the strongest things the Swedes have going for them. That and a stacked blueline: Erik Karlsson, Ekman-Larsson, Kronwall, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Alex Edler, Johnny Oduya, Jonathan Ericsson and Henrik Tallinder.

Toronto Sun highlights Matt Duchene.

Seemingly impervious to the clouds of of bloodthirsty bugs buzzing around his head, young Matt Duchene stood in his driveway firing puck after puck, his dream of one day playing in the NHL and the Olympics never wavering.

In the end, he wasn’t about to let these swarms of blackflies keep him from the game he loved. This was hockey, after all. It was in his blood.

Blood, by the way, he wasn’t about to share with these pesky flying critters.

In order to shield himself from the swarms, Duchene wore a bug hat, complete with the mesh that protects a person’s face.

CBS has a preview of the Men's teams.

The Americans seem to have the ideal combination of speed and grit. While many were quick to complain about the omission  of scoring wingers Kyle Okposo and Bobby Ryan, this team is built with chemistry in mind and players fitting into specific roles.

No, this isn’t the most talented team at Sochi. Far from it …  and that’s exactly the point. The United States roster is built to wear opponents down with physicality and tireless legs.

Rugged forwards David Backes, Dustin Brown and Ryan Callahan lead the way in that department.

Ryan Miller is expected to repeat as the starting goalie as he led the Americans to the final in 2010. Jonathan Quick might be the better goalie on paper, but Miller’s Olympic experience is invaluable.

Team USA aims to mesh quickly.

Team USA’s initial focus is to develop chemistry despite having only a few practices together. Goaltender Ryan Miller, the Olympic MVP in Vancouver in 2010, attributed his team’s surprising success four years ago to its ability to mesh quickly and accept roles.

“I think that’s part of the story that hasn’t come out quite as much, is how quickly we came together and how positive we were,” Miller said. “It’s going to have to be the same feeling over here.”

Team USA’s brain trust constructed this team with chemistry in mind. Coach Dan Bylsma said he’ll likely keep NHL teammates together on lines — St. Louis’ T.J. Oshie and David Backes, for example — because they already have established a bond and on-ice familiarity.

Russia has some pretty good guys too.

In 3,185 combined NHL games, those five have scored 420 power-play goals, of which Ovechkin has 142. Offence shouldn't be lacking for Russia, especially on the power play.

"We have great players, great skills, but bottom line we have to score the goals," Markov said. "If we're going to work like unit of five and we're going to be on the same page we're going to have to score the goals. We have to shoot the puck. We have to get traffic. We have to battle."

Plenty of battling went on in practice for the skaters, as goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Sergei Bobrovsky waited to hear who will start against Slovenia. Bilyaletdinov said he and the coaching staff "have some ideas" but would let the goalies know later in the day.