Tomorrow at 3:15 p.m. EST, the United States Olympic hockey team will take on the Canadian Olympic hockey team in the Gold Medal game. In case you didn’t know hockey in Canada is a BIG deal. It is the national sport. It is America’s baseball, basketball AND football, all wrapped into one. In Canada, they do not hope to win the gold medal, they expect it.
Nay, they demand it, eh?
All the same, the U.S. hockey program seems to be improving. Team USA did defeat the Canadian national team in the World Junior championships in January. The U.S. did defeat the the Canadians in the preliminary rounds of these Olympics 5 – 3. And the U.S. is far past the days of fielding (icing?) a team of true amateurs, as in 1980. This year’s edition features an entire roster of all NHL players. This team is solid. Brian Burke assembled a lot of fresh faces for these Olympics, focusing on young, high-energy and smart hockey players complemented by a few unflappable Olympic veterans. The U.S. is definitely deserving of being in the Gold medal game.
But make no mistake; the Canadian team is stacked. It features scoring leaders up and down the roster, on every line. It’s so deep Team Canada benched perhaps the greatest goalie of all-time when he lost the aforementioned game against the US and have responded by playing better. They are angry about dropping a game to the U.S.. They are upset their Juniors muffed their championship. They are hungry to secure a Gold medal on Canadian ice. They will be ready and they will be frantic.
Can the U.S. win? Sure. It won’t be easy, but it wouldn’t be a miracle either.