So far, through 4 games of the 2014 men’s hockey tournament at the Winter Olympics Canada has won each game, although each game has posed its problems. On Friday when they take to the ice against the Americans in a semi final it will mark the first opportunity for Team Canada to play against a team that rivals them in terms of skill.
I say opportunity because for once, Canadians might not face the team that plays the same style. That style being “crowd the net as much as possible to snuff any attempts to get shots on goal and hope for a mistake to turn around the other way”. Norway, Latvia, Finland and Austria have also implemented the same style play because, let’s face it, none of them had the horses to run and gun with the Canadians.
Friday should be interesting to see if the Americans try to take a page out of the book of the lesser teams that have had success in limiting Canada’s offense, or if they feel they can match skill for skill and just play a regular hockey game. Because, let’s face it, what the Canadians have faced so far hasn’t been real hockey. It has been New Jersey Devils circa 1994. And you can’t really blame the like of Latvia and even Finland, because they simply couldn’t match up.
The US has had the advantage of facing a team similar and skill when they beat the Russians 3-2 in a shootout. They matched the Russians shift for shift and didn’t change their style. It will be interesting to see if they follow the same strategy against Canada. If they do, the semi-final between Canada and the US could go down as one of the all time epic battles between two run and gun teams who don’t give up much either physically or defensively to the other, and it could come down to the last goal wins, whether that comes in regulation, overtime or the dreaded shootout.
Just in case that last option becomes a reality, can someone please “Gillooley” T.J.Oshie? I’m kidding….sort of.