2014 Sochi Semi-Finals Preview

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No. 2 USA vs. No. 3 Canada (Friday, Noon EST)

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No team has been as dominating in the tournament as Team USA. They’ve yet to be beaten and have only been taken to overtime once, while out-scoring their opponents 19-6 thus far.

Team USA made quick work of the Czech Republic Wednesday with a 5-2 win, with the game never really in doubt after Team USA took a 2-1 lead in the first period.

The Americans haven’t been affected by injuries and have a balance right now that maybe no other team has. They have forwards putting pucks into the net and others who are fitting into defensive roles — while also chipping in on the scoreboard — that are frustrating opponents. Phil Kessel has been the most dangerous forward in the tournament with five goals and three assists in four games, while three other players have two goals or more.

Team USA’s blend of experienced and young defenseman have proved fruitful. Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh has played alongside Ryan Suter, and in the process has showed the world that he should be included in the discussions for best young defenseman in the NHL. In net, Jonathan Quick has grabbed the No. 1 spot and hasn’t given head coach Dan Bylsma any reason to second-guess his decision. He’s allowed just five goals in his three starts. Quick has a .935 save percentage in the three games he has started.

With Russia not in the tournament, the team playing with the most pressure has been Canada, and it could be argued that they’re feeling it a bit. Many felt a roster featuring Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Rick Nash, John Tavares, Corey Perry and others would steam-roll through the tournament, but that hasn’t been the case. While they dominated play, Canada narrowly escaped Latvia on Wednesday with a 2-1 win. They’ve had trouble scoring goals — especially from their forwards — and have been led by defensemen Drew Doughty and Shea Weber, who have combined for seven goals and four assists.

Their defense isn’t allowing much and Carey Price has been great in net.

These two teams played a classic four years ago in Vancouver, and another is expected here, with some feeling Team USA should be considered the favorite.