Marie-Philip Poulin

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NHL players: Marie-Philip Poulin is world’s best female hockey player

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The U.S. may have the world’s best women’s hockey team, but NHL players believe Canadian Marie-Philip Poulin is the world’s best player.

Poulin received the most votes out of 496 responses in the 2019-20 NHLPA Player Poll, conducted before the season was suspended. The tally:

Poulin: 39.92%
Hilary Knight (USA): 36.29%
Kendall Coyne Schofield (USA): 15.52%
Emily Pfalzer Matheson (USA): 1.41%
Other: 6.85%

Last year, Knight received the highest percentage of votes from 203 NHL players (27.59), edging Poulin (24.14) with Amanda Kessel third (12.81) and Coyne Schofield and Pfalzer Matheson each receiving 5.91 percent.

Why were Poulin and Knight swapped this year? Perhaps Poulin’s Canadian team winning the debut of the NHL All-Star Skills Competition women’s 3-on-3 game on Jan. 24, even though Knight scored and Poulin did not.

Poulin, now 29, scored both goals in the 2010 Olympic final and the game-tying and -winning goals in the 2014 Olympic final. Even before her Olympic debut at age 18, the daughter of Quebec hospital workers was dubbed “the female Sidney Crosby.”

Knight, 30, led last April’s world championship tournament with seven goals as the U.S. won a fifth straight title. Poulin played 4 minutes, 44 seconds, total at the tournament, missing time with a knee injury.

This spring’s tournament, which was to start Tuesday, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Canada names Olympic women’s hockey roster

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Marie-Philip Poulin and Shannon Szabados, stars of Canada’s last two Olympic gold-medal teams, lead the nation’s 23-player PyeongChang roster announced Friday.

The Canadians will go for their fifth straight Olympic hockey title, which would break the consecutive golds record shared by men’s teams from Canada (1920-32) and the Soviet Union (1964-76).

The U.S. roster is scheduled to be announced New Year’s Day at the NHL Winter Classic on NBC.

Poulin, a 26-year-old often called the female Sidney Crosby, scored both goals in a 2-0 Olympic final at Vancouver 2010 and the final-minute-tying and overtime-winning goals in the 3-2 stunner in Sochi in 2014.

Szabados, also going to her third Olympics after playing in men’s minor leagues in the U.S. in 2014, 2015 and 2016, was in net for both of those Olympic finals.

For the first time, Canada will go to the Olympics without legend Hayley Wickenheiser, who retired in January after winning her fourth Olympic gold medal in Sochi.

Other four-time Olympic champions Caroline Ouellette and Jayna Hefford also retired in this Olympic cycle.

Though Canada lost all three world championship finals to the U.S. since Sochi, it won the last four games of their eight-game pre-Olympic series that wrapped up Sunday.

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Canada Olympic women’s hockey roster
Goaltenders
Shannon Szabados
Ann-Renée Desbiens
Geneviève Lacasse

Defense
Jocelyne Larocque
Brigette Lacquette
Lauriane Rougeau
Laura Fortino
Meaghan Mikkelson
Renata Fast

Forwards
Meghan Agosta
Rebecca Johnston
Laura Stacey
Jennifer Wakefield
Jillian Saulnier
Melodie Daoust
Bailey Bram
Brianne Jenner
Sarah Nurse
Haley Irwin
Natalie Spooner
Emily Clark
Marie-Philip Poulin
Blayre Turnbull

Canada in control of hockey rivalry going into Olympics

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Four years ago, the U.S. women’s hockey team rode a four-game winning streak over rival Canada into the Olympics, then lost both games in Sochi, including a gut-wrenching overtime final.

This time, Canada goes into the Winter Games having won four straight.

The Canadians beat the Americans 2-1 in overtime in Edmonton on Sunday night, taking their pre-Olympic series 5-3 overall.

“I don’t think it was our best performance,” Canada coach Laura Schuler said. “There’s still more work to do.”

The Canadians were led by their stalwarts — captain Marie-Philip Poulin scored in regulation, Sochi gold medalist Jennifer Wakefield scored 26 seconds into overtime and longtime goalie Shannon Szabados stopped 34 of 35 shots.

Hilary Knight netted the U.S. goal, with Maddie Rooney making 24 saves.

“The goal for us is to be hitting on all cylinders in February,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said.

The U.S. appeared to be in that kind of form until about two weeks ago.

Before this losing streak, the U.S. had a 12-4 record against Canada since the start of 2015, including taking the last three world championship finals.

At one point, the U.S. won six straight games over a 12-month stretch, its longest streak over Canada since it famously won eight straight going into the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics then lost the gold-medal game.

Canada also beat the U.S. in their last four meetings before the 2006 Olympics and five straight going into the 2010 Olympics.

The U.S. Olympic team will be announced Jan. 1. The national-team roster is at 25 players (22 skaters, three goalies), but the Olympic roster is 23 (20 skaters, three goalies).

“Can’t live in the past, can’t live in the future, so tonight we were worried about this game,” U.S. captain Meghan Duggan said, according to the Canadian Press. “We weren’t looking ahead to February.”

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