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USA vs. Canada: Olympic Hockey Grudge Match Preview

Ben Ebert |
February 20, 2014 | 4:28 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

Canada barely escaped Latvia, but still can point to 2010 when facing the U.S. (Twitter/@NHL)
Canada barely escaped Latvia, but still can point to 2010 when facing the U.S. (Twitter/@NHL)
The four-year wait is finally over for Team USA. While it is not an exact replica of the scenario in Vancouver, since it is only the semifinal round of the Men’s Olympic Hockey Tournament, Friday’s anticipated grudge match between the U.S. and Canada has just as much hype. 

In 2010, Team USA made a valiant effort in the finals, as Zach Parise scored a late third-period goal to force overtime. But it was Canada who went home victorious with gold after Sidney Crosby netted the sudden-death goal. It was a bitter taste the Americans would not forget and is a memory that has stayed with the 11 returning silver medalists throughout this year’s tournament. 

The U.S. has been arguably the best team so far in Sochi. With the exception of the never-ending shootout game with Russia, all of Team USA’s victories have been dominant. Their star player, Phil Kessel, leads the tournament with eight points and is tied for first in goals with five. Patrick Kane, James Van Riemsdyk,and Joe Pavelski are amongst the seven players tied for first in assists with four. The team has a total of 20 goals in four games and is 3-for-11 on the power play. 

Canada on the other hand, is struggling this tournament despite their talent and depth. Their all-star offense has not lived up to expectations as less than half of the team’s 13 goals in the tournament have been produced by forwards. Defenseman Drew Doughty has been the savior for Canada as their leading scorer with six points and four goals. Patrick Marleau is the sole Canadian tied for first with four assists. Their last performance against Latvia was one to be forgotten, as Canada won narrowly 2-1 despite having 57 shots on goal compared to Latvia’s 16. 

However, the fact that Canada has not shown its true potential is reason enough for Team USA to be concerned. This matchup Friday is the perfect game for a talented roster like Canada’s to come alive and perform at its best when it really counts. Don’t expect the Americans to be sitting back though, as they still remember the huge letdown from four years ago and will do anything to avoid a repeat. It will be quite a spectacle to see how high emotions will run even though the victor won’t receive the gold, but rather only a shot at it.

ALSO READ: 2014 Sochi Olympic Men's Hockey Elimination Round Preview

ALSO READ: 2014 Sochi Olympics Men's Ice Hockey Preview: A Quick Peek At Each Team

Reach Staff Writer Ben Ebert here.



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