Canada needs Sidney Crosby to step up against the USA. Photo Credit: USA Today Sports

Olympic Hockey Semi-Final Preview: Canada vs USA


Well it won’t be a repeat of the 2010 Gold Medal Game, but these two rivals will battle it out for the right to play for the Gold when they meet in the penultimate game.

CANADA vs USA

Friday, Feb 21;  12:00 NOON EST

TV:  CBC

 

Here is how the teams match up:

 

GOALTENDING:  Allowing just 3 goals in 4 games, Canada is the only team allowing less than a goal per game in the tournament.  Carey Price has a GAA of 0.99 and SP of .941, second among the 4 remaining starting goalies.  Jonathan Quick is right behind him with GAA of 1.62 and SP of .935.

EDGE:  EVEN

 

The US has celebrated a lot of goals in this tournament. PHOTO CREDIT: USA TODAY Sports

DEFENSE:  Canada has allowed a tournament low 74 shots, which is a testament to the prowess of Shea Weber, Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty, who are the lynch pins of the blue line.  At the other end, Canada would be done if not for the offensive contribution from the defensemen, who have 7 of Canada’s 13 goals among them, and have added 6 assists.  The US has allowed 95 shots, with Ryan Suter and Ryan McDonagh leading the way.  The US blueline has accounted for 3 goals and 9 assists.

EDGE:  CANADA

FORWARDSPhil Kessel leads the tournament in scoring, and there are 3 Americans who have more points than the leading Canadian forward, Jeff Carter.  Canada has the lowest shooting percentage of the final 4, with the US having the highest, more than doubling Canada’s percentage (16.67% vs 7.74%).  Canada has more talent up the middle, which is their big advantage, as long as all players are playing to their potential. The US is very talented on the wings.  Both teams have had underacheivers, but moreso from those wearing the Maple Leaf, which will be forgotten with a big game or magnified if they can’t come through.  On potential this is a pretty even matchup, with Canada having a bit of an edge but in terms of playing up to expectation in this tournament, there is no doubt who has been better.

EDGE:  USA

 

SPECIAL TEAMS:  There isn’t much to choose between the teams in this area either.  Canada has had only 7 power plays in 4 games, scoring 2 times for a 28.6% efficiency, while the Americans have 3 goals on 11 opportunities for a 27.2% success rate.  Killing penalties, Canada has been successful 90.9% (10 for 11) while the Americans are right behind them at 90.0% (9 for 10).

EDGE:  EVEN

 

PREDICTION: There has been so much made about the Canadian’s lack of scoring from its star studded forward group, and how easily the US has scored goals.  That could be a result of the schedule, where the US has played more familiar teams with talent who can try to match skills with them.  Each team Canada has faced thus far has known they were vastly overmatched in terms of talent and knew the only way they had a chance was to sit in a defensive shell. It does make a difference, and Canada just might need the test of the skilled US to break out.

I can’t predict who will win this one, because they have no common opponents in this tournament to even get a bit of a gauge.  You could argue that the Americans have played more skilled teams, but like I just said, if forced the two teams to play completely different types of games so far.  Head to head is the only way this battle is going to be solved, and I bet the Canadians still have plenty in their back pocket for this one.

Tags: Canada Carey Price Drew Doughty Jonathan Quick Olympic Hockey Ryan Suter Shea Weber Sidney Crosby USA