Once again the fates of the United States and Canada cross at the Olympics, last time it was in the finals at Vancouver in 2010, this time it is in the semifinals on the ice in Sochi, Russia, with the eyes of North America once again glued to their televisions, computers, and radio for three periods and sixty minutes. This game will spur on more people to watch hockey than anything else and for a mere sixty minute, the national pastime of the United States won’t be baseball or football, but will be hockey. For Canada, it will either be the reconfirmation of a return trip for gold, or just the final blow for a team that despite winning games, has looked less than dominate, especially in their last two games against Finland and a near upset against Latvia, but they go by. So here it is once more the United States against Canada. Dunkin Donuts against Tim Hortons. Second City against Kids in the Hall. Kevin Bacon versus Canadian Bacon. Neil Young against The Allman Brothers. While the puck has yet to be dropped, all we got are these comparisons and a precursor to what’s to come on ice.
This tournament, the United States has been clicking and firing on all cylinders, against Slovakia, Slovenia, Russia, and the Czech Republic, although the only bump in the road so far was against the Russians, which saw shootout heroics from TJ Oshie, who following that game became a hero in the eyes of Americans. Through it all, they have been powered by the play of Phil Kessel, the goaltending of Jonathan Quick, and roster that has been gelling like nothing else. Though there have been some cracks, like Quick although playing well, has been at times sloppy in net, but is still getting the job done and has been effective. On the other side is the Canadians, who this Olympics have been winning, but have not come out as overwhelmingly winning, as some of their best players have been struggling, such as Crosby, well others have been proving to be invaluable such as Drew Doughty, and others are now out, such as John Tavares, who tore his meniscus against Latvia. The good news however, is that they are still in contention and can come out firing on all cylinders. They are a team to not take lightly and can put up a grinding fight against the best, and will tire out other teams, such as Latvia who in the third period looked dead tired after trying to maintain a 1-1 tie against the Canadians. To put it simply the roads taken by both teams have been interesting, and different, but still despite this they are both talented and can both walk away with gold.
However, just like Highlander, there can only be one. So who will it be? Well I’m not making a prediction, as I’m biased and would say USA all the way, but I will say is, that it will be the team that plays their style of game and plays it well. These are NHLers they know the stakes are high, and that this is a playoff game. So in the meantime, let’s all sit back and watch possibly one of the best games we will witness this year, or until the playoffs come. So may the best team win, and win or lose, we can all get Timmies after the game.