So it all comes down to this. After what happened last Sunday, as a hockey fan, you knew something like this was bound to happen: Canada vs USA for all the marbles.
Since round-robin play had ended, I've taken a stab at trying to predict what is going to happen in the playoff rounds, and after seeing Finland beat Slovakia last night, my record is 8-3. To be honest, I could care less if I'm correct at predicting today's game, because as a hockey fan, I know that I'm going to be right for one thing: I'm in for quite a treat this afternoon.
The Americans are the only team in this tournament that has gone undefeated to get to this stage. Ryan Miller, goaltender for the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, has been absolutely phenomenal in this tournament. Win or lose, he seems to be the choice of many for the tournament MVP.
While he has been stellar, the knock was that the forwards weren't doing their part heading into a semifinal game against Finland. Patrick Kane, Paul Stastny, Phil Kessel, the list goes on. Except for a game against Norway, most of the other games the team has played in has been decided by one or two goals. Canada had also just destroyed Alexander Ovechkin's Russians in the quarterfinals, and looked to be in the driver's seat.
So what does Team USA do against a veteran Finnish squad? Absolutely destroys them, scoring 6 goals in the first 13 minutes of the game, and cruises to an easy 6-1 win. That was the Americans way of saying to Canada "bring it on.....we ain't scared".
Team Canada has had its own ups and downs of this tournament. The first game of the tournament was a cakewalk, as Roberto Luongo made the start, simply because it was in his NHL home arena. The Canadians were off to a simple start, winning 8-0. However, things changed dramatically for the host nation on only the third day of the tournament.
Martin Brodeur made the start against the next opponent, which was the squad from Switzerland. The Canadians barely squeaked by, having to go to a shootout to get the win. Next up were these same Americans, and "Miller Time" happened, forcing Canada to question everything about its hockey team. Did Steve Yzerman screw up and pick the wrong guys for the job? Was the pressure of being the host country getting to the players? Did Team Canada underestimate the competition? What is wrong with these guys?
Winning in a shootout against the Swiss and losing to the Americans dropped Canada to the sixth seed in the tournament, and the road to the gold got a lot tougher. The team would now have to play an extra game in the playoff qualification round against Germany. The other teams that were in their bracket as potential opponents included the powerhouse Russian squad, as well as the defending gold medallists from Sweden. Canada would have to play three games, including two really tough matchups that were predicted by many not to take place unless it was in the final. Then, and only then, could the Canadians play another game to at least medal.
So what happens next? Head coach Mike Babcock replaces Brodeur with Luongo as the new #1 goaltender; watches his club run wild against the Germans and the Russians, outscoring the two teams a combined 15-5; gets to play Slovakia instead of Sweden in the semifinals; now, gets to take revenge for what happened one week ago against the same team that put his squad in this predicament in the first place.
Canada vs USA. It is going to be one exciting game of hockey.
Prediction: Canada defeats USA 3-2 in overtime
This article can also be found on Fantasy Hockey Wire
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