Duchene confident Canada have sufficient experience


Matt Duchene believes a young Canada team have enough experience to retain the IIHF World Championship as they bid to restore some national pride following a disappointing year for the country in the NHL.

Canada won a 25th World Championship last year in the Czech Republic, thumping Russia 6-1 in the final, and should have extra motivation to give Canadian hockey a morale boost on the back of an NHL season in which no teams from the country qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The defending champions are not the favourites to emerge victorious, with hosts Russia tipped as the most likely winners.

 Canada's roster is teeming with NHL talent, including Edmonton Oilers star forward Connor McDavid, who is in contention to win the Calder Memorial Trophy - given to the top NHL rookie - after registering 48 points in 45 games.

McDavid is the youngest player on Canada's squad at 19 years of age but, with a number of other inexperienced players on the team, Colorado Avalanche forward Duchene - who is set to feature in his fifth World Championship - is ready to embrace a leadership role.

"There are a lot of kids who haven't been there before and haven't experienced [the Worlds] yet," Duchene said. Hopefully I'm a guy they can look to, to know what to expect. There's other guys like that on the team and, even though we're young, we do have some good experience."

First up for Canada on May 6 is a United States team that took bronze last year but is lacking in household names. Finland, Slovakia, Belarus, France, Germany and Hungary have also been drawn alongside them in Group B.

Russia's opening Group A clash comes against Czech Republic, with Sweden, Switzerland, Latvia, Norway, Denmark and Kazakhstan their other opponents.

The hosts are without Alex Ovechkin - who led the NHL in goals this season with 50 - because of his participation in the Stanley Cup playoffs with the Washington Capitals.

Despite his absence, the pressure will be on Russia to triumph on home ice, with goalie Semyon Varlamov telling the World Championship website: "Pressure is always there at World Championships and Olympic Games.

"You cannot escape that. It is created by the fans, journalists and people around hockey. Our mission is to renounce all of that and concentrate on our targets. That's the hardest part."