2010 Winter Olympics: Five Keys to Sunday's Canada Vs USA Gold Medal Game

Ryan PickardCorrespondent IFebruary 27, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 26:  Canadian players celebrate after they won the ice hockey men's semifinal game between the Canada and Slovakia on day 15 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 26, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The rematch everyone has been waiting for will indeed be taking place this Sunday at 12 Pacific and three Eastern Time. Both the USA and Canada won their semifinal games setting up the rematch that will pit the two teams against each other for the first time since the US shocked Canada 5-3 a week ago.

The game will feature a rematch of the 2002 Gold Medal Game in Salt Lake which saw Canada win Gold by defeating the US 5-2. Canadian players and their fans have been chomping at the bit for a second chance at beating the USA while the US fans and players I'm sure have been waiting for the chance to beat Canada again.

There will be plenty of storylines heading into Sunday's matchup but I'm going to take a look at the five key things that have to happen for either side to take home the Gold.

1. Can Ryan Miller stand on his head once again?

Ryan Miller has arguably been the best goalie so far in these Olympic Games. He posts the best GAA with 1.04 in five games and a 95.37 save percentage. He also has one shutout to go along with those numbers which he had in the quarter finals against Switzerland.

Miller has been the MVP for the USA so far and was a big reason why they were able to defeat Canada in the preliminary round. Canada had a huge shot advantage in that game but Miller was able to hold off the Canadians long off to help seal the victory for the Americans.

If the US wants a chance to win Gold then Miller is going to have to be playing out of his mind once again. He has shown he can step up in the big games so far but now comes the true test. If Miller is able to make the saves he has made so far in the tournament then the US has a great chance at capturing Gold.


2. Can the USA stop Canada's depth?

Team Canada had the best depth coming into the tournament and it has shown throughout. When you can have guys like Ryan Getzlaf and Eric Staal playing on the fourth line, then you know you have a pretty darn good team.

Canada has used this depth to their advantage and the US will have a hard time stopping every line Canada throws out there. They were able to hold Canada to three goals last time out but that won't cut it this time around with Roberto Luongo in net for Canada.

If Canada is able to wear down Team USA with all four of their lines then they will have a good shot at taking home the Gold.


3. Can the USA get off to a quick start?

In their first game the US was able to score just 41 seconds into the game as Brian Rafalski was able to beat Martin Brodeur. That was able to set the tone early that the US was here to win and it definitely boosted their confidence as the game went along.

In yesterday's game against Finland, the US was able to score six first period goals ending any hope for a Finland comeback. A quick start would be huge for the US. It would help quiet the crowd and possibly take some confidence away from the Canadians.

The US needs to set the tone early. The first goal will be huge in this game and whatever team ends up scoring first will have all the confidence in the world as the game goes along.


4. Will Canada be able to use home ice advantage?

With the Olympics being played in Vancouver this year Team Canada has had some of the strongest support ever. Their fans have been amazing and have made it hard for other teams playing against the Canadians.

If Canada is able to get the crowd involved they may be able to rattle a young American team. Scoring the first goal would get the crowd into an absolute frenzy but if Canada doesn't score first the crowd might not be a factor. Just look at the last time these two met. The US scored first and the crowd went silent. The Americans will be fighting more than just the players on the ice for Canada Sunday.


5. Will the young Americans be able to handle the pressure?

As mentioned earlier this US team is one of the youngest ever. The average age is just 26 years old with many of the players making their debut at the Olympics. So far they have shown that they are ready to handle to pressure that comes with the Olympics but they have never played in the Gold Medal Game before.

If Canada scores early will the young Americans crack under the pressure? Time will only tell but right now it doesn't look like they are nervous out there at all.

There are plenty of other important factors for this game but these are the ones to be looking out for. No matter who you are rooting for this is going to be a heck of a game and a can't miss for any hockey fan and any non hockey fan for that matter. I'm sure after watching this game you might just become a hockey fan if you aren't one now.