This was previewed and hyped up as the ultimate rivalry game. Canada vs the USA. A rematch of the epic 2010 Olympic final. A battle for the right to play for gold. Two teams ready to do anything to win. It was supposed to be a brutal, even game.
Supposed to be.
Good: Canada was really the only team that showed up in this one. Right from the get go, Canada dominated possession, shots, zone time and the turnover battle. They outshot the Americans 16-11 in the first scoreless period, and eventually 37-31. Even though only up one, they were in control from start to finish and proved, again, that they were, and are, the better team.
Bad: I’m sorry, but I’m done with Kunitz. I was ready to buy into the chemistry explanation for a couple games, but in the semis vs their toughest opponent so far, he proved, to me at least, that taking him over someone like Claude Giroux was absolutely insane.
He missed a glorious chance to make it 2-0 midway through the third, forced two passes on two separate odd man rushes that didn’t get through, and took a silly slashing penalty 200 feet away from his net when his team was up 1-0. I suppose you’ll see the negatives if you look for them, but why is a Kunitz, a great talent, out on the PP when this team is loaded with amazing talent? Truly baffling.
Good: Canada’s penalty killing. They pressured the puck, leaving the Americans with little to no time to make decisions. Bergeron, Marleau, Toews, and Nash created relentless pressure along the half wall and against Ryan Suter on the points, while the likes of Weber, Keith, and the two St Louis teammates, Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester, cleared the crease and down low. There was never any time or space for the Americans to properly set up.
Bad: American offense. Coming into this game, they had scored 20 goals, more than any other team in the tournament. After this game, they still had 20 goals. Still the most of anyone in the tournament, sure, but now it’s for nothing.
The only two players that stood out in this game were Phil Kessel and Zach Parise, who had 5 and 8 shots respectively. There was no sustained offense and no zone pressure, even when down a goal.
Good: Of course, in sports, when one thing is bad it’s because the opposing thing was good. Carey Price was phenomenal in this game, and thank god. I don’t know if any of us were ready for the millions of “should’ve started Luongo” discussions, had we lost this game. His timing and position were stellar, and his rebound control was second to none. Carey Price is easily the very dependable future of Canadian goaltending, and he would like to have a word with anyone who says that Canadian goaltending is not what it used to be.
Good: Toews and Bergeron. Maybe it’s because I’m a Canucks fan and don’t watch them enough, or maybe because they play for teams that I hate with a fiery passion, but man are they incredible. Bergeron and Toews, along with Crosby and Datsyuk, make up my top 4 centers in the game today. Backchecking, hustle, zone awareness, positioning and offensive abilities; these two are the heart and soul of this Canadian team.
Good: Benn opened (and closed) the scoring on a nice tip in front off of a Bouwmeester slap pass. For a guy who wasn’t invited to the orientation camp in the summer, his presence on the ice is exceptional and positive. He adds nicely to the pairing of Getzlaf and Perry.
Good: Canada now faces Sweden for the gold medal. A game that will be completely different than this one. We knew this game would be a low scoring, shutdown game. The Gold Medal game could be 5-1, or it could be 1-0. I give the Canadians the (slight) edge, as our depth is second to none.
Prediction: 2-1 Canada. Benn and Perry with the goals.
Get up early folks. Or just stay up. Same difference, really.