Team Canada earned a bye to the semifinals by sweeping Group B. They also guaranteed themselves an opportunity to play in the medal round.
However, there’s only one medal that interests them: gold.
They’ll have to beat the Americans for a second time to reach it. Let’s get it done.
Canada next plays on Thursday, January 3rd at 4:00 am/1:00 am (ET/PT) against the stubborn Americans.
1) Team Canada hasn’t played since the end of back-to-back games on December 31st, 2012. That means a whole year between games. Does the extra time off prove an advantage, allowing the team more time to re-energize, or does it leave them feeling cold against an American squad that has played the maximum number of games in the tournament and that scored an impressive 7-0 win over Team Czech Republic on Wednesday?
The Americans continued their hot hands, netting five beautiful goals against Canada. For their part, the young Canucks only managed to score one late goal – once it was already clear that the Americans would likely win the game in stride. Canada did seem to start the game slow and finished much stronger, but credit must be given where it’s due: the Americans simply wanted this win more than the Canadians and came prepared to grab it.
2) The Canadians were finally able to capitalize on the 5-on-3 against the Russians, scoring two goals to secure an early lead in an eventual 4-1 win over the home team. Having that said, the same power play failed to capitalize on all of its opportunities against Team USA, including a late 5-on-3 opportunity, in their first match-up. The chances were definitely there, but American goaltender John Gibson was also there to stop them. Which power play, assuming there will be some American penalties in the game, shows up tomorrow?
Nope. It went missing again. They could have certainly used it.
3) The flip side of the last question is that Team Canada didn’t take too many penalties against the Americans in their first match-up. They showed the same level of discipline against the Russians, but looked very undisciplined in their opening games against Team Germany and Team Slovakia. It was pointed out earlier that Canada needs to limit their penalties to win this tournament, and this point became even clearer in their close wins over Team USA and Team Russia. Can we expect Team Canada to continue with its recent mature play?
The Canadians found themselves marching to the penalty box once again, but this time it wasn’t so much undisciplined play that cost them the game as unfocused minds.
4) This question really applies to both teams: having played against each other once already, what lessons – if any – did the teams learn and will they be applied to tomorrow’s match-up? The Americans should have learned that they need to capitalize on every chance they get to beat Malcolm Subban since he’s unlikely to let any easy ones by him. In turn, the Canadians should have learned that they need to capitalize on at least one, if not all, of their power play opportunities against the Americans if they hope to avoid another close game.
It appears the USA took the lesson home whereas Canada proved a poor study.
Bonus Question: Russia avoided a near collapse against Switzerland today. Will this teach every team to concentrate on the game at hand and not the finals down the road? You have to get there first.
From what I saw, the Canadians certainly were guilty of looking ahead when they should have been looking behind, especially on the last stretch pass American goal from John Gaudreau.
You can expect a future post from me on the current state of Canadian hockey, but it’s important to remember that this loss and the tournament as a whole really represent a win for Canadian hockey. Although our national team lost, it’s Canadian hockey that continues to dominate the tournament. You have to remember that the majority of elite players from the USA, Russia, Sweden, etc., come to Canada for their development. This is certainly true for Gibson, who plays net for the Steve Spott, head coach of Canada’s national men’s junior team, in Kitchener.
In the end, we’re really winning and losing to ourselves. We should be proud of the fact that nobody, win or lose, understands hockey better than us. We may now be equal in skill to many of our on-ice foes, but it will always be the love and passion for hockey that distinguishes us. Let’s cheer on the Russians, Americans and Swedes as they carry our game forward.
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