With the World Cup of Hockey rapidly approaching, the United States and Canada recently had two scrimmage games to iron out the kinks in chemistry and appraise what they had on hand. Great to see everyone back here once again at Scores and Stats. Home ice reigned supreme for each nation to the delight of their home fans. USA won their game in Columbus by the score of 4-2 with Canada striking back in Ottawa for an even more decisive 5-2 win. So what can we derive about these two exhibition games before the tournament drops puck later this week?
Have Not Forgotten 2010
Geographics help spur this rivalry but it was the Winter Games of 2010 that fuels this feud to this very day. The US beat Canada in group play but North of the Border captured the one that won the war and the gold medal in Vancouver.
Since that day, the United States has wanted to even the score in a venue that truly matters. Canada is still stinging from the lack of any team in the Stanley Cup playoffs last year. Smart move by the NHL to arrange for these two games before the event to ensure that these teams are ready to renew hostilities.
USA has Best Goalie Right Now
One man stood above all others in these two games. Jonathan Quick stole the show in the first game by the score of 4-2. Dramatic statement considering the US scored four goals but they were effectively being buried with possession and lagging in pace. Quick sealed the breeches and allowed the counter punching ability of the States to score.
Without him in Columbus, this would have been a very disappointing two game set for the US. Much like at Sochi where they only lost 1-0 to a very superior Canadian team, Quick will give this team a fighting chance in the World Cup of Hockey.
How Long Do You Allow Price?
The main reason for the first loss by Canada on their side was the play of Carey Price. Even if you are one of the best goaltenders in the world, being off for that long requires some period of time to get your bearings straight.
How long does Canada give him? When he is at top tier, Carey is their best option. Holtby is serviceable but my money is on Corey Crawford to have some magic in his goalie stick. His play in the second game was by far the best of any Canadian netminder in the two games. How much of a leash does this team give Carey Price to find himself and his form in this short tournament?
One heck of a hockey event awaits us. The World Cup of Hockey surely trumps what exhibition play would give us in the NHL preseason. USA’s coach has been using social and mainstream media to apply pressure on players he thinks are under performing. The States might have the best player in goal right now but up and down the lineup the Canadians are superior in talent. Can one man steal the show starting next week? Join us next time at Scores and Stats as we have predictions for this great event. Good fortune in your sporting ventures and check back in with SAS for all your sporting needs.