It’s the first Olympic meeting between the Team Canada and Team USA men’s national hockey teams since the Vancouver 2010 gold medal game.
Where to begin?
Nothing less than the ideal is acceptable when it comes to Hockey Canada, but let’s think about what Canada has done well versus what they haven’t done so well so far in this tournament. What hasn’t been Canada’s problem is their defence and goaltending. What has been a problem is scoring enough goals on excessive quantities of shots. Are Canadians more confident if Team Canada is entering a game against the high-scoring Americans with questions in net and on the blueline? Certainly not. If they accept something less than perfect, winning four out of four while not scoring “enough” on 35, 40 or 45 shots against trap teams is surely the best of the less-than-perfect scenarios.
Which brings us to the point of how some fans and pundits espouse an entirely too simplistic expectation of a single game of hockey when they suggest it is (or should be) a guarantee that a team like Latvia will be blown out by Canada; as if Latvia is “so bad” that Canada sucks if they don’t walk over a team whose entire gameplan is to stack five players between the puck and the net, hope for the best, and rely on a hot goalie. There was eight players on Latvia who have played in the NHL, and an NHL-drafted goalie with some recent AHL accolades, who, over a single game sample, is entirely capable of putting on a show that frustrates a collection of very good NHLers. The difference between a good AHL goalie who is playing out of his mind and a good NHL goalie playing well in a single game is not a difference at all. Mix in a large heaping of luck and good fortune (hand-on-the-puck incident, Kunitz’s empty-net cross bar, ample lucky bounces around the net), and, yeah, it’s possible the Canadians might only win by one goal. Play a game with a 58-17 shot count five more times…
Austria and Slovenia entered the tournament as the two worst teams – Canada and the USA blew them out, respectively. While Canada played a group of teams who had no illusions of going go toe to toe with them, Team USA trounced a terrible Slovakia team (who lost every game, including to Slovenia, and conceded a ton of goals overall) that thought they could trade chances and a poorly-put-together Czech team that wasn’t content to just sit back, either. Canada’s preliminary group was “poor,” but every team they played against played like they knew it. Canada’s consistent possessional dominance and its depth should ensure it generates the majority of the chances on Friday.
The United States has had the best single line in Joe Pavelski, James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel unit, but not the better supporting cast, and certainly not the better defence, as Canada’s has been excellent. The goaltending remains to be seen; Jonathan Quick has a track record of big-game success, but there isn’t a shred of evidence yet to back up the statement that Carey Price hasn’t done his job. In our angst we sometimes lose sight of it, but unquestionably Canada’s roster is more talented.
The point here is not some argument that it’s all going to come together for Team Canada on Friday in an unexpected rout of the Americans. The Americans have looked better as a team, able to find working combinations and roll with them, perhaps giving them the edge, while Canada still struggles to find the right combinations up front. That could of course change in one game. The point is, all bets are off and to pretend as though we have any clue what will transpire on Friday, a 60-minute meeting between a collection of the best in the NHL on the big ice, is foolhardy. While Max Pacioretty portrayed his team as the underdogs in Wednesday’s post-game interviews, it seems Team USA is the Vegas favorite going into this game. If you’re Canada, you’ve got no problem with that.
Stick Tap to Daily Faceoff for the jersey graphics.
Team Canada Olympic Roster vs Team USA
|13th forward: Martin St. Louis|
Team Canada Olympic Roster Line Combinations, Feb. 20th. 2014
Jamie Benn, Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene, Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Patrick Sharp, Steven Stamkos (injured, will not play), Martin St. Louis, John Tavares (injured, will not play), Jonathan Toews
Jay Bouwmeester, Drew Doughty, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, P.K. Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Shea Weber
OPEN THREAD IT'S GAME TIME AKJFSDJFKSDKFJ http://mapleleafshotstove.com/2014/02/21/team-canada-vs-team-usa-open-thread/
At least Bolland is not acting like Switzerland, he was very funny yesterday.Not a fan of Kessel and JVR today.GCG
The whole Cdn Olympic team has been on fire since yesterday. We just need the men to do their part coming up. Getter done boys !
anyone thinking the pp will play a big part in determineing the winner of this game? can easily see Brown, Callahan and Martin taking dumb penalties in this one :)
Interesting fact about the Curling venue. It's portable. Will probably be relocated elsewhere after the games.
A little torn about the game being a leafs fan...that said...still have to cheer for the crest on the jersey not the names on the back...But if we must lose, I hope Price gets lit up then Luong as well coming in relief.
@darthNihilus Time for you to find another site unless you're not Canadian.
@rustynail To bad they are both not Russian, I know who the Russians are pulling for lol, and it aint the US
@rustynail This should be... interesting
@rustynail Ref brawl? Nice
@Burtonboy LOL....team bonding?.....has Carlyle not been paying attention to some of the tweets going back and forth between Canadian and US players?.....lol :)
@Burtonboy a dejected Nokolai Kulemin no doubt...
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan I thought you looked pale and sickly. I think you should go home and get some rest ;)
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Still "flu" season, Bon.......get creative ;)
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan I'm stuck in my office - streaming! LOL.
@Bon Scott was a Leaf fan Call in sick. From your desk.
@wendelsway1 NW Ontario represent!
@wendelsway1 Proud to call The Sault home. My Dad sponsored team Jacobs through his Optical practice - Soo Optical. Gold medalist wearing contacts from my Dad. Shouldn't he get a medal too?
@Alec Brownscombe They're usually not happy when you hit the post...
@Alec Brownscombe Well, we are talking about 2" wide right?
@Alec Brownscombe Wait how big is a credit card - (indirectly stolen from a reddit comment)
@Murph2417 Was bound to happen. We do poorly in the middle. Start and finish are where all of our sports are. Except speed skating short track. Hamlin had a poor showing this time around.
@BBirde Was very happy to see the French woman out of the medals, after our Canadian was squeezed out by the 3 Frenchmen. :)
@TuckerForPunishment Putin's backyard.
@Tim Horton In the Maritimes. lol
@daniel marois USA is on the verge of a gold in Ladies Slalom so it looks like it may come down to hockey.
@wendelsway1 The golden curl? The golden throw? The golden bowl? Doesn't have the same rings as golden goal/