Who wants Justin Bieber? Or, more importantly, who doesn't want the global pop star?
On Thursday, a billboard popped up near Chicago with a tongue-in-cheek wager in advance of Friday's anticipated Olympic men's hockey semifinal between the United States and Canada.
Meanwhile, Darren Rovell of ESPN shared the measures that one bar in San Francisco is taking to ensure a pro-American fun.
Nothing is higher than the stakes of tomorrow’s game. pic.twitter.com/usqJ9EPTpg— Command Sign (@CommandSign) February 20, 2014
While it's all fun and games for the fans, it will be a serious affair for these two teams once the puck drops at noon ET on Friday. You can watch the game live on NBC Sports Network in the United States and CBC in Canada, while NBC Live Extra will also carry a live stream of the event.
USA vs. Canada Men's Semifinal Game
Date: Friday, Feb. 21
Time: Noon ET
TV: NBC Sports Network (United States) / CBC (Canada)
Live Stream: NBC Live Extra
Replay: Feb. 21, 5 p.m., NBC SN
Who Will Win?
A day after Canada claimed a thrilling 3-2 comeback overtime victory against Team USA in the women's hockey gold-medal game, the men will face each other in the semifinals.
It's too bad that the men's teams couldn't meet in the final, too, but the stakes are still plenty high as these two teams meet again in the Winter Games. Kevin Allen of USA Today recently chronicled the rich history of international matchups between these two countries, highlighting his five favorite all-time matches.
Friday will mark the first time that Team USA and Team Canada have played on an Olympic stage since 2010, when Sidney Crosby knocked through a golden goal against the Americans in overtime to give the Canadians the win in front of their home fans in Vancouver.
This time around, the United States enter as the hotter team after dismantling the Czech Republic, 5-2, in the quarterfinals, while Canada edged out a 2-1 victory against underdog Latvia in its match.
Following their win on Wednesday, members of the U.S. hockey team spoke to Larry Lage of the Associated Press about the upcoming matchup:
"We knew we were going to have some big games prior to this point in time, but you were looking forward to the possibility of this rematch," coach Dan Bylsma said.
After a day off, the countries that share a long border in North America and generally friendly relations will meet on Friday for the chance to become hockey champions of the Sochi Games.
"It's a great opportunity," American forward Max Pacioretty said. "They're obviously the favorite coming into the tournament, and we've opened up a lot of eyes with our play, but we have more in the tank to give and to show. We keep getting better every game, and hopefully we'll keep getting better after this one."
For the Americans, a win on Friday would vault them into the championship game, where they are assured to tack onto the nation's medal count. Through Day 13, USA is tops among all countries with 25 total medals.
While the U.S. offense has been stellar during these games, leading the Americans to an average margin of victory of 3.25 goals per game, Canada doesn't look like it's hit its top gear yet.
Following his team's close victory over Latvia in the quarterfinals, Canadian coach Mike Babcock sounded weary of the American attack he's about to face, via Paul Myerberg of USA Today:
"We plan on getting better each and every day. We're going to get better tomorrow. We play a U.S. team that seems to score real easy. We haven't scored real easy. But we'll be ready to play."
Leading the U.S. offense is forward Phil Kessel, who has five goals and three assists in the tournament so far, highlighted by his hat trick against Slovenia in the group stage. Meanwhile, Canada's top player, Sidney Crosby, is struggling to put up big point totals, as detailed by Myerberg:
No Canadian skater seems to embody the team's ability to fruitlessly punch its way deep into the zone more so than Crosby, the all-world center who brings only two points, both off assists, into the semifinal date with the USA.
It's not that Crosby hasn't been disruptive—he has been frenetic at times, feeding teammates and heading Canada's power-play attack. Like Canada's attack at large, however, Crosby has been unable to capitalize when giving prime scoring opportunities.
With the amount of firepower that the U.S. has shown so far during the Winter Games, it would be a good time for Crosby to snap out of his scoring funk.
As always, there will be a big focus on the goalies Friday. For Team USA, it will likely be Jonathan Quick between the pipes, while Canada is expected to tab Carey Price. Nicholas Goss of NESN offered his impressions of the two goalies so far in Sochi:
Carey Price faced just 14 shots against Latvia and has seen 49 in the tournament. He has made clutch saves when needed (0.99 goals against average, .944 save percentage), but Price will be much busier against an American squad that’s averaging 30 shots per game. Jonathan Quick has been solid for the Americans with a .931 save percentage and a 1.62 GAA. The former Stanley Cup champion has shined under pressure and instills a ton of confidence in his teammates, whereas Canada has never seen Price play on a major stage.
While the other semifinal will also take place on Friday between Sweden and Finland (6:30 a.m. ET, NBC Sports Network), all eyes will be focused on Team USA versus Team Canada.
It will be interesting to see how these two teams perform under the bright Olympic lights. While it will be tough to top the drama of Thursday's match between the women, this will surely be one to watch.