Winter Olympics 2014: Canada vs USA Men's Hockey Semi-Finals Recap

Al Bello

Canada faced their bitter rivals to see who would advanced to the gold medal game, and Jamie Benn gave Canada the only goal they would need, as Price gobbled up every puck that came his way, shutting out the Americans.

Both teams got off to a fast start, exchange chances early. It was clear from the get-go that Phil Kessel would be a threat down the right wing, as he blew by Duncan Keith on a few occasions, but Carey Price was always there to make the save.

In fact, that was the call for most of the game "And the goalie makes the save..."

Both Jonathan Quick and Carey Price put on a clinic today, saving 36 and 31 shots respectively. Neither of them gave up many second chances. Canada's key asset was it's short shifts, combined with a relentless fore check that rendered the American defencemen completely exhausted by about mid-point in the third.

Jamie Benn was the offensive hero of the game, as he was the only player on both teams that managed to beat a goalie. This tournament has been a coming-out party of sorts for Benn, who despite having been dominant for the past several years, is only getting recognition now that he's playing on the world's biggest hockey stage.

Scapegoat Chris Kunitz had his best game of the tournament. He created and took several scoring chances, and was continuously  pestering Jonathan Quick in his crease. Jay Bouwmeester, who is having a rough tournament himself, turned it around today and put together a very good effort. In fact, almost all the Canadians put together a solid effort, never allowing the Americans much space or time in the offensive zone, and keeping the scoring chances to the outside of the zone. Fortunately for Canada, whenever the Americans did manage to break the Canadian defensive pattern Carey Price shut the door.

Canada carried the pace for the majority of the match, and the United States seemed to be content to sit back and allow wave after wave of pressure. For the majority of the third they played with a 1-2-2 fore check, allowing Canada to easily clear their zone whenever the opportunity arose.

Canada's defense was immaculate. Carey Price was fantastic. The offense was threatening, despite only scoring one goal. The lack of scoring really isn't a problem as one might expect. They're getting opportunities, they're shooting a lot, they're playing well down low and creating chances off the cycle.  That's an easy recipe to win hockey games.

It was a picture perfect game for Canada, and with the win they earned a berth in the gold medal final versus Sweden on Sunday morning.

The United States will face Finland for the bronze medal tomorrow.

Maybe next time, USA. There's always a next time.

Highlights

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