Ice Hockey: What Team USA Did Wrong in Loss to Canada

Photo Courtesy of Puyo Dead, licensed through Flickr via Creative Commons

Photo Courtesy of Puyo Dead, licensed through Flickr via Creative Commons

Well, that ended badly. In a tense 1-0 match to determine who would play Sweden for Olympic Gold, Canada doubled down on their Olympic Series with Team USA, continuing the string of victories started in the Vancouver Games of 2010. Jamie Benn, the forward who plays for the Dallas Stars in the NHL when he isn’t busy crushing hopes and dreams, scored the lone goal. Now all that’s left for Team USA is to face off against Finland to determine who ends up in third.

Team Canada is horrifying. They’ve allowed three goals in five games. They’ve never trailed in the entire Sochi Games. They drink the blood of infants whenever they step onto the ice (emotionally speaking.) That’s explained a little bit by their goalie, Carey Price, being a tentacle monster. He saved every one of the 31 shots Team USA. There were questions about Price’s ability to keep up with Team USA goalie Jonathan Quick (who went 36-37.) Those questions were answered.

Team USA’s game was characterized by a lack of offense, which reads more obvious (owing to the score) than might actually be the case. The team struggled to stay in front of Canada’s net, with much of their action being forced to the perimeter. The American forwards also failed to use their speed to their advantage — or, to be honest, even when they were able to create some separation and get some shots off, Carey Price played out of his mind — and also squandered three power plays in the first two periods.

Photo Courtesy of Kristina_Servant, licensed through Flickr via Creative Commons

Photo Courtesy of Kristina_Servant, licensed through Flickr via Creative Commons

Back to Price for a second — a first time Olympian, the goalkeeper who’s day job is keeping the puck out of the net for the Montreal Canadiens has become the focal point of a Canadian team that’s struggled to score. When you’re not scoring a lot (Sidney Crosby has been scoreless for five games now), you’ve got to have top notch defense, and when the coach is prophetically on the record telling The Star that everything’s gravy because “all we need is one more [goal] than the other team,” before the game, the goalie better play perfectly.

To recap: Team USA could’ve taken advantage of their powerplays and their overall advantage in mobility to turn the game into a shootout.  Team Canada’s problems with scoring probably would have had them in fits trying to keep up. Unfortunately, their goalie was perfect, and Team USA was unable to even the score up at all. In the end, the U.S. could still medal, and Canada could still lose to Sweden, but someone is going to have to soothe Patrick Kane and Barack Obama.

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