It’s on to gold and it’s absolutely deserved. Team Canada will meet Team Sweden in the Olympic gold medal game on Sunday morning.
After beating Latvia 2-1 in the quarterfinal in Sochi on Wednesday, Team Canada came back on Friday afternoon and beat the United States 1-0 on a remarkable game of controlled hockey, initiated by brilliant defensive play.
Canada will now go on to the gold medal game against Alexander Steen and Team Sweden on Sunday morning. Toews vs. Steen should be a dandy.
The USA, meanwhile, will play Finland for the bronze medal on Saturday. The Canadians will now try to go back-to-back and win their thrd gold medal in the past four Olympic games. Since the NHL began to allow its players to compete in the Olympic Games back in Nagano in 1998, the Czechs and Swedes have captured one gold medal and Canada has won two.
There was one goal. It came at 1:14 of the second period, when Jamie Benn redirected a pass from defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. Bouwmeester was at the point, he wound up and faked the shot, instead sending a hard pass through the middle that Benn tipped past U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick.
Canada was clearly the best team one the ice. Carey Price made 31 saves to get the shutout but he really wasn’t tested. The Americans seldom got a second shot off a rebound and the vast majority of the U.S. shots came from the perimeter. In most cases, Canada won the dirty battles in the corner and did a remarkable job keeping the puck out of harms play.
When Canada made the occasional defensive error (and there weren’t many), Price held firm and made sure the Americans got no garbage in front. In the meantime, the brilliant Canadian defensemen kept the United States away from the net. In a nutshell, Canada completely stifled the U.S. attack.
If you were an American hockey fan, this one would have been hard to watch. The Americans had no room and very few legitimate chances to score.
This was a game Canada deserved to win. Quick was terrific in the U.S. net and made 36 saves. Canada controlled the offensive and defensive zones and every man did his job. Sure, it would be great if Sidney Crosby got his offense going, but if the Canadians play the all-around brilliant game they did against the USA against the Swedes on Sunday, gold will be safe.
On Friday afternoon, Mike Babcock’s Team Canada played a near perfect hockey game. They only have to do it one more time.