The gold medal game is upon us, and fittingly, Canada will face off against their US rivals in a battle of hockey’s elite. The US team, led by Zach Parise, Patrick Kane, and of course Ryan Miller, will look to grind out another victory over Team Canada, while the Canadians will seek to avenge a tough 5-3 loss to the Americans in the round-robin phase of the tournament.
In the aftermath of a huge win over Russia, where Team Canada surprising outscored their rivals to the tune of 7-3, fans immediately – and naturally, I might add – began to eagerly anticipate the realistic possibility of a re-match versus the United States for the Gold Medal.
Only many seem to have overlooked one significant detail: a red-hot Slovakian team standing between Canada and the final game.
According to their website, the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed recent draftees Mikhail Stefanovich, Carl Gunnarsson and Juraj Mikus to entry-level contracts. As General Manager Brian Burke continues the process of evaluating the Maple Leafs farm system, he has identified a trio of players with a chance of becoming part of the long-term picture in Toronto.
This is it. One of these two teams will be singing â€œIâ€™ve got a golden ticketâ€ in the dressing room. A win means a trip to the gold medal game; a loss is a trip for the bronze. Dustin Tokarski will get the start for Canada, and while some feel Pickard should have gotten the game, itâ€™s hard to argue the way Tokarski held his own after the penalty-stacked opening 10 minutes of the Canada/USA game.
2 Words: Total Domination.
Canada did all the right things in tonightâ€™s game. They played a great cycling game in the offensive zone and have gotten more creative in their passing plays. They continued their crash-the-net tactics and even moved the puck out for some big point shots. On the defensive side, they played the 1-2-2 trap system the Fins used Sunday night, and applied an aggressive attack in the defensive end to completely shut down Richard Panik and the Slovaks.
Itâ€™s their final exhibition matchup of the pre-tournament and Canada looks to apply the same pressure theyâ€™ve produced in their first two meetings. Sunday nightâ€™s game against Finland showed that this team can in fact change on the fly, and Iâ€™m not talking about the lines.
>>>DISCUSS IN THE FORUMS
With the imposition of the salary cap taking some clout away from the financial Super Powers (or so they say), the “new” NHL focuses upon the importance of successful drafting and a constant flow of young players on cheap, entry-level contracts. With scouts now being dispatched to all corners of the globe, it’s getting to be quite a small world. The boundaries of the Hockey Community are ever-growing, and we’re starting to find ourselves with a neat little global village forming in the NHL.