The United States and Canada are set to meet in the men’s hockey semi-finals, Friday Feb 21@12:00 pm ET, at the 2014 Winter Olympics. This will be a rematch of the 2010 gold-medal game in Vancouver, which Canada won, and it’s sure to be an epic affair. In the quarter-finals, Canada squeaked past Latvia by a 2-1 margin, while the United States fulfilled its end of the bargain via a 5-2 win over the Czech Republic. The Canadians are struggling to wrinkle the back of the net and have to man up fast, because the Americans are more than ready for the matchup. The Canadians are still the slight favorites over the Americans.
Canada appears to be a bunch of superstars just thrown together without any real chemistry. Canada has scored 10 goals so far in the bracket; they’ve had a rather easy schedule outside of the preliminary-round bout with Finland, which they only won 2-1. Much of the reason Canada has struggled offensively has to do with Sidney Crosby not finding the back of the net so far. Yes, his team is littered with NHL talent, but said talent has not been scoring, either. A Latvia defense with only one NHL player in its lineup held Crosby in check and limited the Canadians to just two goals.
The Americans have had no issue scoring. They have 20 goals after four games and Phil Kessel is the tournament’s leading scorer. Canada could manage just two goals against Latvia and has 13 for the tournament. Only six of the 13 goals have been scored by Canada’s forwards, who were supposed to be the strength of this team. USA have three power-play goals in 11 opportunities and have only conceded one goal while shorthanded.
The Americans have only surrendered six goals on their path to the final. The defense does an outstanding job of pushing attackers to the outside of the offensive zone, and goalkeepers such as Jonathan Quick have played stout defense in front of the net. In fact, this strategy of pushing the Canadian attackers to the outside is exactly what Latvia, Norway and Finland employed to sound success. America will surely continue to do the same.
The matchup of Team Canada vs. Team USA is a tossup, because many of the players on each squad are familiar with each other. Both Price and Quick have played well, but they each have had their fair share of bad starts in the NHL. No matter how you slice it, a hot goaltender will shut down a team.
Team USA: Jonathan Quick (1.62 GAA, .935 save percentage)
Team Canada: Carey Price (0.99 GAA, .941 save percentage)
Special-teams situations will be a premium as the games continue, and they could have a direct impact on which teams win a medal. Team USA has the best PK unit in the tournament.
2014 Men’s Olympic Hockey USA vs Canada
When: Friday Feb 21@12:00 PM ET
Pick: USA -105
The Bottom Line: If the game is close, expect coaches to rely on their veterans, and the team with more veterans could ultimately have a slight edge in the semifinals. We recommend you sign up with Bovada to receive a 10% sign up bonus heading into the Mens hockey semi-final.