5 Reasons Canada Will Beat Team USA In Men’s Hockey
Heading into the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver every hockey fan has Saturday, February 21st circled on their calendar—the date Canada and team USA will clash in the preliminary round.
Canada comes into the Olympic games as the team to beat. There are some that believe that the Russians, Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Team USA will give Canada a run for their money, but in the end I think the consensus will be correct with Canada front and center in the Gold Medal game.
Comparatively, Team USA comes into the tournament as an underdog. Blessed with good goaltending, Team USA is regarded as one of the smallest lineups, with little depth at forward and limited offensive skills on defense.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at five reasons Canada will Beat Team USA in Men’s Hockey…
5. Canada’s Home Crowd Will Be A Factor: Traditionally, Americans and Canadians are cordial neighbors. In fact, it is not out of the ordinary to see citizens from these countries applauding the friends to the North or South when they do well.
That said, when it comes to Olympic Hockey, all gloves are off. Canada and Team USA have a deep routed history between each other, a history that brings out the best in Canadian fans, culminating into one of the best rivalries in Olympic hockey.
Needless to say, the Canadian fans will put all niceties aside when Canada faces the States. Don’t look for Canada’s fateful fans to politely applaud when Team USA scores, rather, a hush of silence and, perhaps, the odd “boo”.
Hockey is everything to Canadians and, as such, I suspect the Canadian crowd to be loud, full of energy, and very rabid in their support—especially against big brother.
Many athlete’s have lamented that they “couldn’t have been successful without the love form the crowd.” Look for the Canadian crowd to give Team Canada the edge that is needed in the tough situations, whether it be on the penalty kill or when the Canadians need a goal.
When the chips are down, the crowd in Vancouver will come through, something Team Canada is banking on…
4. Canada’s Superior Experience Will Be A Factor: Team USA will ice a team that will feature just three players with Olympic experience—Chris Drury (forward), Jamie Langenbrunner (forward), and Brian Rafalski (Defense).
Comparatively, Canada boasts a total of eight players with olympic experience—Jarome Iginla (forward), Rick Nash (forward), Joe Thornton (forward), Dany Heatley (forward), Chris Pronger (defense), Scott Niedermayer (defense), Roberto Luongo (goaltender), and Martin Brodeur (Goaltender).
Of those eight, Brodeur, Niedermayer Pronger, and Iginla were all apart of Canada’s Gold Medal winning team from 2002.
Clearly, Canada’s experience should help to calm these players’ nerves, which in turn should see them play a calm, controlled game. Any slip in mental toughness can lead to a critical error, an error that can see your team lose the game in the blink of an eye.
Team USA’s youngsters will, in all likelihood, struggle to maintain the high level of concentration that is needed to compete on the intense stage that is the Olympics. Stranger things have happened—we all remember 1980, but this time around the talent level is far superior to anything the Americans, or any nation for that matter, have ever seen—maybe the best ever?
Look for Canada’s mental toughness, leadership, and experience to conspire against the Americans. In the end, Canada’s roster should emerge superior, with experience playing a major role—especially in between the pipes where Team USA goalies have no Olympic experience and a very limited amount of International experience.
3. Canada’s Size Will take It’s Toll On Team USA’s “Smallish” Roster: Canada’s roster will feature a number of behemoth’s, including defenseman Shea Weber—6’4”, 234 pounds, Chris Pronger—6’6”, 220 pounds, as well as forwards Rick Nash—6’4”, 218 pounds, Ryan Getzlaf—6’4”, 220 pounds, “Jumbo” Joe Thornton—6’4”, 230 pounds, to name a few.
Comparatively, Team USA will have to rely on a small group of forwards that will include forwards Patrick Kane—5’10”, 178 pounds (soaking wet!), Zach Parise—5’11”, 190 pounds, as well as, defenseman Brain Rafalski—5’10”, 194 pounds, and Ryan Suter—6’1”, 194 pounds.
Admittedly, Team USA does feature a number of players with size, such as, defenseman Erik Johnson—6’4”, 236 pounds and forward Ryan Malone—6’4”, 220 pounds, but when you consider the overall rosters of both Canada and the U.S it’s simply no contest—Canada is noticeably larger, which will take it’s toll on Team USA’s forwards and defenseman alike.
2. Canada’s Tenacity Will Emerge Superior: If any team at this tournament has more grit than Canada it has eluded me. Defenseman Chris Pronger, Shea Weber, Duncan keith, Brent Seabrook, and forwards Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Mike Richards, and Ryan Getzlaf, are eight of the toughest players to play against in the entire NHL.
Here, assembled on one team, these eight players will wreak havoc on opposing forwards and defenseman, leading many to take retaliatory penalties and/or left devastated by the hard hits that will be thrown at will.
Team USA is not without a little grit of it’s own, Ryan Suter hits like a truck, Ryan Malone is as tenacious as they come and Brooks Orpik is a real pain in the butt to play against as well. That said, Canada boasts more players that can distribute pain and play at a high level, which gives them the nod against the Americans.
1 Canada’s Leadership, Depth, And Ability to Adapt Will Be a Huge Factor: When Steve Yzerman put together Team Canada he went into his selection process looking for players that could play all 200 feet of the ice. With that in mind, Yzerman has assembled a roster that features 13 forwards that can play in every conceivable situation—whether it be on special teams, a checking role, or a scoring role.
Without question, Team Canada features one of the most impressive group of forwards, each one capable of raising their game, each one of them possessing tremendous leadership skills.
Make no mistake about it, there are no egos on Team Canada and, in fact, many of these players represent their NHL teams as team Captain. Leadership, combined with depth and the ability to switch up the lines should serve Canada well all tournament long.
Canada’s Captain at this years Olympics will be none other than New Jersey Devils defenseman, Scott Niedermayer. Niedermayer, who is one of the most decorated defensemen in NHL history, is a tremendous leader who has been through this before. His Olympic and Stanley Cup playoff experience should serve him and Canada well, both on the ice and in the dressing room.
Team USA features a lot of one-dimensional players. On defense, Team USA features Jack Johnson— a great offensive defenseman who struggles to meet expectations defensively. Brooks Orpik is the polar opposite with limited offensive upside and a good overall defensive game.
At forward, Team USA’s most complete player is Zach Parise. Much like many of Canada’s forwards Parise is offensively gifted and defensively responsible. Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel can get it done offensively, but they have a penchant for coming up small in defensive situations—something that may cost them versus Canada, if not throughout the Olympics.
In the leadership department Team USA will feature Brian Rafalski, Zach Parise, and veteran Jamie Langenbrunner. That said, the lack of Olympic and International experience will likely take it’s toll on the American’s, especially when the going gets tough.
When everything is said and done, Canada should have the advantage at just about every conceivable position and in every conceivable situation. For Team USA to be successful against the Canucks they will undoubtedly have to call upon the hockey God’s for another Miracle On Ice—something that is not out of the question, but a long shot nonetheless.