Today’s Group A action is a doozy, with Team Canada taking on a Team USA already out of second chances.
The shot clock might have been 35-17 in their favour, but losing 3-0 to Team Europe was embarrassing for Team USA. Team Europe’s subsequent win over the Czech Republic has also put the US in a rather tight spot: if they lose tonight, they'll be mathematically eliminated from the semi-finals. It’s with good reason that USA coach and Colin Kaepernick fan John Tortorella has been calling tonight "our championship game".
Whether roster selections or John Tortorella as head coach, Team USA’s decision-making process has been questioned almost without end. An early exit would only amplify the criticism.
As for Team Canada, they’re coming off a decisive 6-0 win over the Czech Republic. If there’s concern to be had, it’s two-fold: that the Canadians may be a little slow-starting after last playing on Saturday; and to avoid being too cocksure. The former is a situation the Americans face as well, while with regards to the latter, Team Canada can use the genuine animosity present to their advantage. Channeling their pre-tournament hostilities into a heartfelt desire to eliminate the Americans shouldn’t be too difficult.
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 7:00 p.m. CT, Air Canada Centre
TV Broadcast: ESPN, SN, TVA Sports
Live Stream: WatchESPN, NHL Live
|Left Wing||Centre||Right Wing|
||Derek Stepan||Patrick Kane|
|James van Riemsdyk||Joe Pavelski||T.J. Oshie|
|Zach Parise||Ryan Kesler||Blake Wheeler|
|Max Pacioretty||David Backes||Kyle Palmieri|
|Ryan McDonagh||John Carlson|
|Ryan Suter||Matt Niskanen|
|Erik Johnson||Dustin Byfuglien|
Why yes, that is Justin Abdelkader alongside Derek Stepan and Patrick Kane. Say what you will about Tortorella, but let no one accuse him of bowing to pressure from the basement blogger community.
In addition to Kyle Palmieri, Winnipeg’s own Dustin Byfuglien now draws in after being scratched for Team USA’s Saturday loss. Of course, for Byfuglien and Palmieri to join the fray, Brandon Dubinsky and Jack Johnson had to come out of the lineup. As Craig Custance pointed out, this can’t have been an easy decision for Torts, considering he’s their NHL bench boss and all. So much for Brandon Dubinsky: Crosby Super Pest.
It sounds as though both players will receive power play time, with Byfuglien potentially on the second unit alongside Suter, Oshie, Kesler and Stepan. Whether these changes will be enough to take on Team Canada, we’ll find out soon enough.
|Left Wing||Centre||Right Wing|
||Sidney Crosby||Patrice Bergeron|
|John Tavares||Ryan Getzlaf||Steven Stamkos|
|Logan Couture||Jonathan Toews||Corey Perry|
|Joe Thornton||Ryan O'Reilly||Matt Duchene|
|Marc-Edouard Vlasic||Shea Weber|
|Jay Bouwmeester||Drew Doughty|
|Alex Pietrangelo||Brent Burns|
**insert praise here**
Seriously though, it’s full steam ahead for Team Canada. Crosby is clicking beautifully between Marchand and Bergeron, Carey Price looks like Carey Price, and "four-liner" Joe Thornton looks like he has another 1000 games in those 37-year-old legs of his.
If and when they lose tonight, we'll have a hockey summit to dissect what went wrong. Until then, everything is peachy.
Tweets of the Day:
John Tavares says Jonathan Quick's #LAKings teammates provided some tips on his tendencies ahead of tonight's Canada-U.S. game.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) September 20, 2016
If Doughty knew some super secret way to score on Quick, Canada probably would have scored more than one goal on 37 shots in 2014 Olympics.— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) September 20, 2016
USA will be eliminated if they lose to Canada tomorrow.— The Hockey Gods! (@HockeyGods) September 19, 2016
American hockey fans right now.. pic.twitter.com/PGrKNrTA1S
Who are you cheering for this evening? Will Team USA’s changes and desperation be enough to overcome Team Canada? And where is the right spot for both Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien in the Americans lineup? Turn the comments section below into your stream of consciousness, and as always, thanks for reading!