UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- On Tuesday morning, the Team Canada debate will rage even hotter than it already has. When Hockey Canada finally announces its 25-man Olympic roster, the first wave of second-guessing will begin. (The second wave will happen should Canada not win gold in Sochi.)
One Dallas Star is on the outside of many roster projections; that's Tyler Seguin. The other, team captain Jamie Benn, has played his way into the conversation. Of course, it's Team Canada, so there will be some great players watching the Games from Sochi instead of being there.
Since becoming teammates after a July trade, Benn and Seguin have combined for 35 goals and 77 points through 41 games and have the Stars two points out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Both have seen their names mixed into the Team Canada conversation, with Benn having the better odds of the two to make the final roster. But as the announcement approaches on Tuesday, they're not letting it affect their mindset.
"I'm sure they probably already got their team picked now," said Benn after Dallas' morning skate Monday. "I guess I'll just let my play do the talking for me. If I make it, it's awesome. And if I don't, that's too bad."
"Right when the trade happened, right when the camp [roster] got released, I talked to Benn about it, just saying that we wanted to make some noise and I know we've done that," Seguin said.
"I think Benn's had an unbelievable year and I know I've been put on the radar, but saying that makes the team, that's out of your control."
Helping Benn's case, aside from his threatening career highs in goals and points, is the fact that his head coach, Lindy Ruff, is an assistant on Mike Babcock's staff for Team Canada.
So has he lobbied Ruff to put in a good word?
"Lindy knows what kind of player I am by now," said Benn. "It might be a positive to have him see what you can do every game, but you go through your ups and downs. You can't play 82 great games. We'll see what happens tomorrow."
Ruff, who said he was looking forward more to Monday night's game against the New York Islanders than Tuesday's roster announcement, noted that Benn's performance at the 2012 World Championships may have hurt him in the eyes of the Hockey Canada selection committee, but his not being invited to the orientation camp in August certainly fueled his motivation this season and his play with Seguin has improved his chances.
"That link between [Benn and Seguin], you look for as a coach, that you can find two players that play that well together," said Ruff. "He's great on the walls. Physically he can handle the big bodies. He can do something with the puck that not a lot of big men in our game can do."
Benn's versatility to play on the wing or down the middle would put him ahead of other "bubble" players, and he's certainly made a last-ditch effort to capture some eyes with four goal and seven points in his last six games.
"I think it's always in the back of your mind [the Olympics]. It kind of gives you a bit of motivation for this year," Benn said.
"I want to be on that team."
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