The United States carries a ton of momentum into this game while Canada might deal with a little self-doubt (and no John Tavares), but the bottom line is that both teams come in undefeated and only one will go to the gold medal game against Sweden.
Their semifinal match kicks off at noon ET today, so click here for the live stream:
You may remember a certain game on Feb. 28, 2010 when Sidney Crosby scored the golden goal to give Canada gold and leave the U.S. with silver. Crosby, naturally, will be on the ice, but the U.S. better hope that Ryan Miller remains a spectator behind Jonathan Quick. (Being that Miller’s appearance would likely come from either an injury or meltdown.)
That decision to go with Quick over Miller could very well be criticized or lionized based on how this game shakes out. The winner gets to face Sweden/Finland in the gold medal match while the loser settles for bronze or fourth place.
One of the two nations will guarantee its first medal on international ice in ages; Canada hasn’t won a men’s hockey medal on the larger ice surface since 1994 while the U.S. drought stretches back to 1972.
One specific lineup note: veteran U.S. defenseman Paul Martin won’t play, opening the door for Justin Faulk’s Olympic debut. No pressure, kid.
It also (understandably) wiped away the memory of U.S. forward Zach Parise’s timely tying goal, which sent that gold medal game to overtime on Feb. 28, 2010.
For those who watch most (if not all) of their hockey during the Olympics, the question might be: “What has happened since then?” Olympic Talk takes a look back at those goals and how life has changed for some of the key figures involved.
“I just remember just little snapshots. I don’t even remember necessarily scoring. Just right before it, kind of the anticipation. Knowing that there was some space and [being] kind of all alone in front. That’s kind of what I remember, that kind of desperation to hopefully get the puck there and put it in. Everything after that is kind of a blur.”
With that goal, Crosby already had a Stanley Cup ring and gold medal on his resume at age 22. He’s dealt with some peaks and valleys since then, as concussion issues and playoff disappointments are accompanied by his still-blistering NHL scoring.
Jarome Iginla – the man who sent the pass to Crosby; the player who prompted the Canadian star to yell “Iggy!” – is currently playing for the Boston Bruins after a brief spell with Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins. He didn’t make the Canadian Olympic team this time around.
ZACH PARISE MOVES, PATRICK KANE RISES
Zach Parise has an interesting perspective on that situation. He’s the guy who buried the goal that sent the game to OT (after some great work by Patrick Kane), but was also on the ice for Crosby’s game-winning tally. He admitted to NHL.com that those moments follow him even as he left the New Jersey Devils for the Minnesota Wild.
“To this day we get reminded of it all the time and you get asked about what it felt like to come that close. So it never really goes away. Two days later you have to go back and start up your NHL season but you never really completely block it out of your mind. You never forget how it felt to lose that game.”
One could argue that Kane is the player with the highest highs and lowest lows following this tournament. There have been off-the-ice troubles, yet the crafty winger won two Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks since that silver medal run and continues to climb the ranks of the league’s elite scorers.
Things haven’t been so great since that 2009-10 season, however, as he’s struggled – at least in the standings – with the Buffalo Sabres. He’s also backing up Jonathan Quick, so Miller attempting to thwart Crosby this time around may be a bad sign (being that Quick would either get pulled or injured in that situation).
ROBERTO LUONGO’S STRANGE JOURNEY
Much like Miller, Canadian goalie Roberto Luongo made his team’s roster but hasn’t been chosen as the No. 1 guy. Despite that gold medal on his resume, Luongo finds himself as Carey Price’s backup.
Goalie controversies are nothing new to Luongo, who has faced turmoil despite being the go-to goalie for 2010 host city Vancouver’s Canucks. He suffered a painful loss against the Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, dealt with a soap opera in the competition he faced with former Canucks backup Cory Schneider and is cast as a frequent scapegoat in the city despite that gold medal.
Luongo has shown a great sense of humor via Twitter and took the situation in stride, as Canada.com reports.
“That’s what I enjoy the most, just being part of the Olympics and the Olympic experience,” Luongo said. “Obviously, hockey’s there but if you can’t enjoy the whole experience, you’re not here for the right reasons.”
For Canadians in particular, Crosby’s golden goal will live on for a long, long time. As you can see, some of the main characters in that exciting game show that it’s far from a final act, however.
The two teams are likely to stage some unforgettable scenes on Friday, too … even if a few characters are missing.
The first-game starter decision might seem like it means a lot in the Olympics, but the real pivotal moment comes when a team faces a legitimate contender. In other words, plenty can be read into the United States starting Jonathan Quick and Russia going with Sergei Bobrovsky in Saturday’s showdown.
Granted, things can change even from now, especially since Bobrovsky will play his first game. A bad Quick performance may end up being Ryan Miller’s chance to improve on his silver medal 2010 run, as this will mean two starts for Quick and none for Miller so far.