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Thursday, February 20, 2014

USA vs. Canada Across the Board

Wild on Sports
USA vs. Canada Across the Board
By Wild on Sports Analyst Jason Gillson

Life the way it should be!

No, we are not talking about the State motto of Maine. Instead we will be treated to Olympic Hockey rivalry of its finest over the next two days as North American juggernauts Canada and the United States square off with medal bids on the line for both the Men's and Women's brackets.

The fun starts on Thursday at 12:30est when the women square off in the gold medal game. The two premier clear cut favorites coming into the Olympics have done nothing to dis-spell that notion, crushing all opponents in their paths. Those path actually crossed in the round robin portion, offering us a treat sneak peak of what most assumed would be a preview of the gold medal game.

Sure enough, here we are again! Canada won the first match-up 3-2 in a very back and forth game. The USA won the previous high profile match-up at the World Championships.

Clearly these two are the creme of the crop in women's hockey. Thursday's match-up should only further showcase the elite talent that these two clearly have.

On the men's side, the game that many hoped would be for the gold medal in a rematch of 2010 comes a round early as the two will do battle in semifinal action on Friday at 12pm EST. Both teams have shown flashes of brilliance and dominance throughout but both have been tested in down to the wire fashion making for a pretty level playing field coming into this one.

The United States comes into the game as the highest scoring offense in the tournament -- an unbelievable thought considering the criticism prior to the tournament about a lack of goal scoring fire power. The line of Pavalski-Van Reimsdyk and Kessel has been nearly unstoppable. Patrick Kane seems to be a bit of a sleeping giant. When he has the puck on his stick he seems to be in a league of his own, the that has not translated to goals as you would expect. Recently, paired with Ryan Kessler and Dustin Brown that scoring touch seems to be just a tick away from breaking out. If USA can get two lines producing at the rate of the Kessel line, they will be very tough to defend.

The Canadians survived a bit of a scare in the quarterfinals against a very hot Lavian goaltender. Goal scoring has not been the strength to this point that many expected, but with the depth they have igniting the scoring touch could come at a moments notice. The line of Getzlaf, Perry and the rotating third wheel has been the strongest line for them all tournament. Defensively, they have yet to really face an offensive with sustainable firepower. That said, they have held their own in the defensive end and Carey Price has looked like a goaltender capable of leading a team to a gold medal. It will be interesting to see if they re-insert P.K. Subban into the line-up on the back end in search of a little more offensive firepower.

Any way you slice it, we are in for some unbeatable, world class hockey the next two days.  Buckle up folks, we are in for one wild ride!


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