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United States vs Canada Preview

February 21, 2010

Game Time: 6:30 PM CST
TV/Radio: MSNBC (Thanks NBC!)/WGN (720-AM)

Stat Pack:

Record (W-OTW-L-OTL)
2-0-0-0 1-1-0-0
PP 25% (2 of 8 ) (4th) 23.08% (3 of 13) (5th)
PK 75% (3 of 4) (8th) 100% (5 of 5) (1st)

Did you guys hear about some hockey game that’s supposed to be on today?  I haven’t heard too much hype for this game, but its probably just a bunch of scrubs that were just thrown together.

There have been so many story lines building up to this game, that I’m sure I’m going to miss some.  For the United States, this is another gritty underdog game, exactly 29 years and 364 days since the Miracle on Ice game (also the 50th anniversary of the 1960 gold medal team).  They’re coming into a hostile environment and going up against one of the most prolific rosters of all time.

And there’s no love lost between the teams.  For friendly border brothers and teammates during the 82 game NHL season, these guys really hate each other.  Most vocal about his Canadian hate has been professional douchenozzle Ryan Kessler.  Probably not the smartest move for someone who plays professional hockey in Canada.  In an interview today, he less than eloquently stated, “I hate them.” Funny. That’s how most people would answer a question about him.

Canada is under so much pressure that, to paraphrase Ferris Bueller, if you stuck a lump of coal up their asses, in a week you’d have a diamond.  Anything less than gold in this tournament, and I fear for the collective health of the Great White North.  They almost choked against the Swiss on Friday night.  Just think of what’s to come against a team with more in its arsenal than passive neutrality.  Marty Brodeur is starting in net, leaving Canuck Roberto Lunogo riding the pine in front of his home crowd.

Some other storylines that make this a great game:

  • Brian Burke is dealing with the emotional loss of his son who died in a car crash just before the games started.  His son was a well known hockey lover and you best believe the US is playing with an emotional edge.
  • More emotional backing for the United States: every player has been “adopted” by a wounded veteran from their hometown, university, or NHL city.  The vets send the players care packages including personal notes of inspiration and something for the player to keep in his locker, like the bullets that had to be removed from the vet.  If that doesn’t get you amped up, you don’t have a soul.

Blackhawks in the Game

Kane is the lone Hawks player on Team USA.  He’s going to have to have a great game.  He’s one of the top offensive players for the US, but it took a game to get him going.  Ron Wilson jumbled the lines a little and it paid off pretty well, with Kane picking up a goal against Norway.

With all due respect to Seabrook, Keith and Toews are going to be the bigger players for Canada. Seabs sat for most of the 2nd half of Canada’s game against the Swiss.  Babcock didn’t like what he saw out of Seabs and relegated him to door duty.

Duncan Keith is going to be paired with Drew Doughty tonight, which could be one of the best pairings you’ll ever witness.  Try to remember during the game that Doughty is only 20 years old. I guarantee that he’ll play so well that you forget.  Definitely a rising talent in the NHL and when he and Jack Mo’ Fuggin’ Johnson get into the playoffs, that will be one hell of a defensive unit.  Dunc and Doughty are both great defensemen with some great offensive upside.  Don’t be surprised to see some goals while this unit is on the ice (of course that’s if someone can solve Ryan Miller).

Rumor has it that Johnny Toews is going to play on a line with Sid the Kid.  While I’m not a big fan of Crosby, this has the potential to make Toews look really good.  Both of these guys are playing like someone is trying to steal the medal right off their necks.  Someone (sorry I don’t remember who exactly) mentioned that while some guys were passively skating around against Switzerland, Crosby looked like he would steal the puck from his own teammates because he wanted it so bad.  He proved how bad he wanted it when he stepped up and won the game for Canada in the shootout.

So go get ready for the game.  I have to go put on my Maple Leaf clad gear.  Yeah, I’m rooting for Canada.  I’d tell you all to go suck it, but we’re all just so nice, eh?

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