Canada using doubts as motivation

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SOCHI, Russia -- For all the hand-wringing going on back home in the Great White North, you'd have no idea watching Team Canada at practice Thursday.

It's about as loose and confident a group as you could imagine on the eve of a delicious semifinal matchup with rival Team USA. Lots of smiles and laughter and back-slapping between drills.

Nervous? Tight? Either these guys are the greatest actors in the world, or the joke's on the fans for worrying about Team Canada's lackluster finish around the net.

Enter Drew Doughty, Mr. Olympics. The surf dude from L.A. might as well have just come out and said, "Chill out, people."

The Kings star blueliner oozed assuredness Thursday, as if perplexed by why the folks back home are all tied up in knots.

How does he know all of Canada is freaking out right now?

"Just from reading my Twitter, that's about it," he said, shrugging his shoulders. "We're confident here. We don't care what other people say. We're winning games; that's all that matters. It doesn't matter how we win them. We obviously want to put more pucks in the net, and we're looking forward to doing that tomorrow.''

Oh wait, Canada has four wins in four games here?

"I hear ya, right?" chuckled winger Jeff Carter, when it was pointed out Canada hasn't lost a game yet despite the calamitous state of hearts and minds of Canadian hockey fans.

"I know, I don't know what's wrong," echoed Doughty. "I think a lot of people are counting us out, too, which we're really going to thrive under that. If anyone wants to count us out, we're going to use that as motivation. We're hungry.''

Hungry to beat Team USA again, that is.

With wins in both the 2010 and 2002 gold-medal games, Canada is looking to make it 3-0 in elimination games versus Team USA since the NHL Olympics began in 1998.

"I think both teams are really evenly matched," said Doughty. "I don't know who I would give the upper hand to at this point. But I'm obviously more confident in my team than theirs. I'm just really looking forward to it. It's going to be a huge game.''

For Doughty, it's personal in some ways. His Kings pals Jonathan Quick and Dustin Brown stand in his way of another gold-medal game.

How badly does Doughty want this?

"Big time," he said. "You want those bragging rights. For the rest of the season. For the rest of your life, really. I'm really close with both those guys, Quickie and Brownie. It's going to be fun tomorrow. I want to beat them so badly. We're big rivals, us and the U.S., especially after our last Olympics. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Doughty talked about running into Quick at the meal hall in the athletes' village Wednesday, both of them envisioning what could be a blast of a scenario.

"We were talking about hopefully it came down to a shootout and hopefully I shot," smiled Doughty.

All kidding aside, if anyone has a book on Quick, it's Doughty and Carter, who face him in practice every day in L.A.

"Well, obviously, he's one of the best goalies in the game," Carter said. "He's a guy that never quits on any pucks, so if you get a chance, you have to make sure it's in the net. Real quick, quick legs, takes away the bottom half of the net. We're going to have to be on our game to get a couple past him."

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