2022 Olympics: 3 Keys to the Game for Team Canada Against USA

Canada opened their Beijing campaign with a decisive 5-1 victory over team Germany. They jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the first period and never looked back.

With all due respect to Team Germany, Canada looks to be in for a more formidable challenge in their next game against their biggest rivals, Team USA.

Canada and USA will both be looking to move to 2-0 with a win while taking a significant advantage in the race to finish first in group A. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some keys to the game for Team Canada as they get set to battle Team USA.

Canada Playing a Full 60 Minutes

It was hard to find a flaw in Canada’s opening 10 minutes against Germany. Three goals gave them a comfortable lead out of the gate, yet the biggest highlight might have been a massive hit delivered by Eric O’Dell just before the opening goal was scored.

That level of play is considerably tough to keep up for a full 60 minutes; however, they never seemed to come close to that level of play for the remainder of the game.

Jason Demers Arizona Coyotes
Jason Demers, Arizona Coyotes (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Germany matched Canada in shots on goal in the second and third period combined (17), which means that even though they weren’t getting outplayed, they weren’t playing with the same dominance that they had in the first.

For the record, a 10-7 shot advantage for Canada in the first might not look outstanding, but many of their chances were high-danger ones, right in the slot. Plus, they scored on three of those shots, which is truly the most important statistic. Against a much stronger team in the USA, however, Canada will have to put their foot on the gas and not take it off for even a minute. If they don’t, they might be on the wrong side of a quick, offensive outburst in this game.

Canada Must Stay Disciplined

Possibly the most significant concern from Canada’s win over Germany was that they struggled at times to stay out of the penalty box.

Canada took three straight penalties to end the first period and took another in the early stages on the second to give Germany four consecutive power plays. Full credit to their penalty-kill units for killing all those penalties off, but that isn’t a position you want to put yourself in very often.

Some of the toughest saves goaltender Edward Pasquale made were while killing off those penalties. The momentum gained from the power plays eventually led to Tobias Rieder scoring midway through the 2nd period.

Team USA has some young, talented forwards such as Matty Beniers and Matthew Knies, who will salivate at the idea of having so many power-play opportunities in this game. If they want to win this game, Canada will have to stay disciplined and ensure they aren’t over-working their penalty kill units.

Canada’s Top Line Must Produce

It’s not that Canada needs their top line of Eric Staal, Mason McTavish, and Josh Ho-Sang to score to win this game. They proved last night that this team has some solid depth scoring, with Kent Johnson, Eric O’Dell, and Ben Street having recorded multi-point performances.

Still, Canada will depend a lot on their top line throughout this tournament to produce when it matters most. All three have the skill to do it; right now, it’s more of a matter of finding their confidence and chemistry playing together.

Staal is just a few years off from being a 40-goal scorer in the NHL. Ho-Sang has been dynamic offensively in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies, and McTavish is the best player in the Ontario Hockey League, with some NHL and international experience as well.

Those three players together boast the chance for Canada to have the most dynamic offensive line in the entire tournament. However, with just one assist between the three players against Germany, it wasn’t the start they were hoping for in Beijing. They will undoubtedly be looking to produce more in this crucial Group A matchup against team USA.

Eric Staal
(Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Anytime these two teams meet in international play, it’s a must-watch game. Some of the most famous games in international play are between these two rivals, and even though this isn’t an elimination game of any kind, expect this to be a fantastic hockey game.

Related: Staal is Crucial to Team Canada’s Success in Beijing

If Team Canada can stay disciplined, get some offense from their most prominent stars, and keep their foot on the gas for an entire game, a commanding lead in Group A will be very obtainable.

Morning Skate newsletter Click To Subscribe