Canada’s quest is to beat jet lag, win hockey gold

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) - Canada’s quest is to win Olympic gold in hockey again.

Its immediate mission, though, is different.

Canadian coach Mike Babcock said his goal for the team’s first practice on Monday afternoon was simple after a long night of traveling.

“Keep the players up,” Babcock said. “To be honest with you, it’s been a long day. We had an opportunity to see how big the ice is and to go through some things.”

Babcock saw something he didn’t like when he put Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter together with Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby and one of his NHL linemates, Chris Kunitz.

Carter shoots early and often for the Kings, he’s tied for fourth in the league with 3.9 per game, but he passed the puck too much for Babcock’s taste during a short skate.

“If he’s giving it back to Sid, he can’t play with him,” Babcock said.

Crosby scored the gold-medal-winning goal in overtime against the United States four years ago.

Carter, who was playing for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010, flew to the Vancouver Games as a standby player in case Ryan Getzlaf wasn’t healthy enough to participate.

Getzlaf did recover well enough from an ankle injury to be on the final roster, turning Carter into a temporary tourist. He stuck around for a few days, staying in the team hotel, and checked out the sights and sounds at the last Olympics.

Now, Carter is in Russia and might get an incredible chance to play with one of the best players in the world known as Sid the Kid.

“You always have to be ready with him,” Carter said. “He won’t even be looking at you and the puck’s coming to you.

“I think for whoever plays with him, you’ve just got to kind of listen to him. He’ll tell you where to go to be in the right spots. He’s going to find you and when you get the chance you’ve got to get it to the net.”

Canada’s hopes of becoming the first to win two straight golds and three overall since NHL players joined the Olympics in 1998 may hinge on how well it fares in front of the net.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo helped Canada win gold in his home rink, but Montreal Canadiens standout Carey Price is statistically having a better season.

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