Flyers winger Ian Laperriere is rooting hard for his homeland _ Canada _ in Sunday afternoon's Olympic gold-medal game against Team USA.
But whatever happens, Laperriere has been impressed by the Americans.
“What I like about the U.S. team is that they’re excited. They’re young kids and they’re showing what our game is all about _ just having fun and scoring goals and jumping around and being happy about the other (teammates)," Laperriere said after Saturday's practice in Voorhees. "They’re not worried about their own situation, but just worried about the ultimate goal, and I think those kids have the (enthusiasm) more than any other team in the tournament.”
With the game in Vancouver, Canada will have most of the fans' support.
“I know the crowd is going to be pretty loud," center Claude Giroux said, "so the guys will be pretty jacked up.”
Defenseman Ryan "Bernie" Parent agreed.
"The fans are going to be unbelievably excited for the game. I think they’ll feed off that," Parent said.
Team Canada includes the Flyers' Chris Pronger and Mike Richards.
Defenseman Braydon Coburn is pulling for Canada because it’s his homeland and “because Richie and Prongs are on the team. It’ll be a tough game with good goaltending. It’s going to come down to whoever capitalizes on the opportunities.”
The Americans and Canadians are the only Olympic teams composed strictly of NHL players.
“I’m pulling for the U.S., of course, but Canada has played really well the last two games,” said coach Peter Laviolette, a Massachusetts native who coached the Americans in the 2006 Olympics. “They really showed themselves over Russia, and the U.S. has been outstanding, really fast.”
The American’s early-round win over Canada means little Sunday, Laviolette said.
“I don’t think that game means anything,” he said. “You’re not going to intimidate Canada. They’re not going to wonder if they can beat the U.S. They know they’ve got a good hockey team. It comes down to who can make a shot, who can make a save, who has a little more edge on the puck. And special teams, maybe.”
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My pick: Canada 3, USA 2.
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Derek Settlemyre, the Flyers' equipment manager, holds the same position with Team USA....Laviolette was happy with the third practice after the break. “The puck skills are getting better, and we seem to be getting our timing back and guys have really pushed the pace,” he said…..Oskars Bartulis missed his straight practice since returning from the Olympics. GM Paul Holmgren said he was healthy but just given a rest…..Parent absorbed contact for the first time since his back surgery and felt no ill effects…..The Phantoms’ Joey Mormina, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound defenseman, has participated in drills the last three days because the Flyers are shy of their three Olympic defensemen: Pronger, Bartulis and Kimmo Timonen. With Parent and Danny Syvret close to returning from injuries, the Flyers could deal a defenseman before Wednesday’s trade deadline.