In what can only be described as the best game so far at this year's Winter Olympics, Team Canada defeated Switzerland 3-2 in a shootout. The result of that game is going to be felt all the way up until the puck drops Sunday when Team USA goes up against Canada. The two will duel it out to see who wins Group A and gets the automatic bye into the quarterfinals.
There weren't too many people out there who thought Switzerland would give Canada much of a game. Canada has just rolled Norway 8-0 and the Swiss weren't expected to give them much of a challenge, either. Canada may have won the game, but the US team should be feeling more confident heading into Sunday's showdown then they were a week ago.
So far, Team USA has won both their games by a score of 3-1 over Switzerland and 6-1 over Norway. The Norway game though was not as lopsided as appears. The game was tight until the US was able to pull away by putting in three goals with less than five minutes remaining in the game.
Team USA hasn't been at their best so far in these Olympics, but here's a look at what they have to do to pull the upset of Canada and win Group A.
Ryan Miller Has To Stand on His Head
Ryan Miller has been nothing short of astounding through the first two games of these Olympics. In his first game against Switzerland, he faced just 15 shots, stopping 14. Still, he turned back the Swiss time and time again when they had a chance to close the gap to just a goal.
In Miller's second game against Norway, he faced even less shots, stopping 10-out-of-11, but he made some huge saves keeping the score 3-1 eventually leading to the US blowing the doors open towards the end of the game.
If the US wants a chance in this game, they need Ryan Miller to continue his hot streak and stop anything that is thrown his way. Miller will need to challenge the Canadian shooters and not sit back in his net. If Miller is on his game the US will have a great shot at victory.
The US Has To Use Speed to His Advantage
Team USA's best advantage at this year's Olympics are their speed, and they need to use it to their advantage. With guys like Phil Kessel and Patrick Kane flying up the wing, they may be able to beat Canada's defensemen, and this will be key if they want to put pressure on Canada.
Phil Kessel scored a great goal today flying up the wing and beating a Norwegian defender before putting one past the goalie. If the US can utilize this to their advantage, they should be able to put some goals up on the board. They still have to beat a red hot Martin Brodeur, though.
Don't Sit Back, Take the Game to Canada
There aren't many times at all in any sport that it's good for a team to sit back and just try to take advantage when their opponents make a mistake. How many times is Canada going to make a big enough mistake that the US will have a chance to counter? Not much if any this Canadian team doesn't make many mistakes.
If the US wants a victory, they are going to have to take the game to Canada. That means forechecking for the entire game. Don't let Canada take the puck of their zone without a man always pressuring the puck carrier.
Put as much pucks on Brodeur as possible. They can't wait for the perfect shot. Whenever open, put the puck on net, and see what comes of it. You never know what might happen. A crazy bounce here and there, and all of a sudden you could score two or three goals.
If the US can accomplish all of these things then they have a great chance at winning the game on Sunday. This will be the biggest game for the US since their gold medal game in 2002. I'm sure there's nothing the US want to do more than beat Canada in their own backyard.