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Player Diaries

World Cup diary: Blake Wheeler

Team USA forward, teammates ready for crucial game vs. Team Canada

by Blake Wheeler / Special to

Winnipeg Jets forward Blake Wheeler is playing for Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. The 30-year-old has agreed to keep a diary throughout the tournament, which began Saturday in Toronto and runs through Oct. 1.

In his latest installment, Wheeler talks about rebounding from a 3-0 loss to Team Europe on Saturday to face Team Canada on Tuesday (8 p.m.; ESPN, SN, TVA Sports) in a critically important game.

TORONTO -- It doesn't matter what anyone else says. We've got to go out there and make it happen. After last game people are probably having their fun with the guys in our room. But we're not shaken. Not yet.

I think we're past theloss to Team Europe. It doesn't really change anything. At some point we were going to have to face Team Canada. To reach our goals we were going to have to beat these guys. I think our focus is in the right place.

Team Canada tries to smother you. Their defensemen play tight gaps, their forwards backcheck hard. But we have talent in our room too, and we've been through it before. Most of the guys in our room are power-play guys, guys who put up numbers on our NHL teams. We have 10 guys who scored at least 20 goals in the NHL last season and three of the top eight in points. We know what it feels like to kind of get suffocated out there and have it be a tough night.

We'll get the puck to go in the net. When you start worrying about offense, then you're already beat before the puck drops. That's not our concern. We're going to get our looks and we're going to capitalize on them.

Our concern is making Team Canada play a tough game. We don't want to give these guys anything. They're going to make things happen on their own. They just have that much ability in their lineup. So you don't want to fuel the fire. You want to make them come up and down the ice, make them skate all over the ice, and when they do get their chances, hunker down and keep them out of our net.

It's going to take everyone playing their A game. There's no two ways about it. We're going to have to play the best game we've played so far. Team Canada is going really well right now and obviously those guys have a ton of confidence, and they're going to have a pretty good building behind them.

We're aware of the challenge we face, but I think we're all excited about it.

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