February 21, 2014

Canada vs USA: Sochi Olympic Semi Final Preview


The United States men's hockey is getting exactly what they wanted at the 2014 Sochi Olympics - a rematch of the 2010 gold medal game vs Canada.
In Vancouver, Canada defeated the U.S., 3-2, when Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby scored the famous "Golden Goal" in overtime. 
The Canadians also defeated the U.S. in the 2002 Salt Lake City gold medal game. And now the American men, many of whom were in the stands to witness it first hand, will also be looking to avenge the USA ladies loss to Canada in the women's gold medal game on Thursday.
But it is the 2010 loss that stings the most for this American team, many of whom were on the ice in Vancouver and had to endure the heartbreaking loss and subsequent medal ceremony. They are determined to erase that memory.
The Americans are primed and ready to overtake Canada, but it certainly will not be easy. The Americans have basically rolled right through the competition at Sochi. Canada, on the other hand, have struggled to find goals and, despite dominating play, are eeking out victories.
The Americans were a young team in 2010 but they have grown together and are ready knock off the Canadians.  It is safe to say that Canada has certainly not inspired a lot of confidence from their legion of followers, but I do believe that the team themselves remain a very confident group. People forget that they have played very well in Sochi, and their best game has not been shown yet.
Canada will have to contend with USA's so-called Meat Line of David Backes, Dustin Brown and Ryan Callahan. This physical threesome will be looking to soften up Canada at every chance, and have been scoring well, too. Also watch for Joe Pavelski with James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel. They have torn up the competition in Sochi so far.
Canada is hoping their unmatchable defense pairings will be the difference maker. Whether they throw out Duncan Keith and Shea Weber, or Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester or Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Drew Doughty, Canada's rearguards can match up against anybody. The Americans have not had to face anything like it yet.
Canada's defense has keyed their pop-gun offense so far, so expect the American forwards to watch the point men very closely. Canada will likely have to try and win the 3 on 3 cycle game down low.
The winner of the game will face the winner of Sweden vs. Finland, a rematch of the 2006 gold medal game, in Sunday’s championship. Meanwhile, the losers of the two semi-finals will play for the bronze medal Saturday.
The game between the U.S. and Canada is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT. It will be shown on NBC in the United States and CBC/CBC Online in Canada.

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