There’s nothing like Canada vs USA hockey and the Canadian fans said it best on Sunday’s game between Canada and Switzerland, chanting “We want USA! We want USA!” This chant added more hype to an already highly anticipated rematch between team Canada and USA that is scheduled for Monday at 7:30 p.m. EST at HSBC arena in Buffalo.
Canada goes into the semifinals match-up with a 4-0-1 record, receiving a shootout loss to team Sweden on Dec. 31.
Canada’s offensive squad hasn’t struggled in this tournament, outscoring their opponents 32-13 in a span of five games. They’ve received an offensive boost from several players in their lineup, getting key goals from all four lines. Team Canada will look to Ryan Johansen, Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn to lead the offensive squad in the semifinals match-up.
So far Brayden Schenn has anchored team Canada’s offense, putting up a tournament-leading seven goals and eight assists, combining for 15 points in five games. After Canada’s quarterfinal game against Switzerland, Schenn commented on the upcoming semifinals rematch, telling TSN reporters, “That’s what we wanted. They’re a good team, so that’s two good teams going at it, and we’re excited about the match-up tomorrow night, and I’m sure they are, too.”
Canada has played a solid defensive game in the tournament due to the strong play of Jared Cowen, Ryan Ellis and Erik Grudbranson. These three defenders have led the way for Team Canada, playing key roles on the penalty kill, power play and five-on-five play.
Both Mark Visentin and Olivier Roy have maintained respectable statistics despite giving up “soft” goals throughout the tournament. Canada’s Achilles’ heel could be in net if they don’t receive consistent goaltending in the semifinals match-up.
Team USA has shown hockey fans why they came into the tournament as the favorites, maintaining an impeccable 4-0 record.
Veteran forwards Kyle Palmieri and Chris Kreider have led team USA’s offensive squad. They’ve led the offense with speed and agility, maintaining an impressive point-per-game average. Besides Palmieri and Kreider, team USA has seen newcomers Nick Bjugstad and Charlie Coyle step up. Bjugstad has used his 6’4”, 205 pound frame to his advantage, playing a productive physical game; while Coyle has lead team USA in points, putting up an impressive two goals and four assists, combining for six points in four games.
Captain John Ramage has anchored team USA’s blueline, being vital in all areas of play. Besides Ramage, Justin Faulk, Nick Leddy and Derek Forbort have played important roles on team USA’s blueline, chipping in both defensively and offensively.
Returning goaltender Jack Campbell has played a sound game in net, picking up right where he left off. Campbell could easily be the deciding factor in the semifinals match-up, holding enough experience and skill to single handedly win the game.
The Canada vs USA hockey match-up could easily come down to Brayden Schenn of Team Canada and Jack Campbell of Team USA. Both players have the passion and skill-set to single handedly win the game for their respective team.
CHL writer for The Hockey Writers. Follow me on twitter @kellyFriesen