After the quarter-finals featured three close games and one blow out, the field is set for the semi-finals with two great games on the horizon. Team Canada will play the home country Czech Republic in what is sure to be a high scoring game with packed stands. Canada won the previous meeting between the two teams 6-3.
The second game features the upstart Americans against the star-studded Russians in a game that looks to be a mismatch on paper. But hockey is not played on paper and the two teams should be able to play a good game that remains close throughout the match. The USA won the previous match-up with a score of 4-2.
If you live in a country that is not showing the World Hockey Championships, the IIHF is streaming the games on their YouTube channel.
Canada versus Czech Republic
9:00 am EST
After coming back against Finland to win their quarter-final game, the Czech Republic will face Canada in the first semi-final. Led by the ageless Jaromir Jagr, the Czechs will look to overcome Canada's superior goaltending, powerplay, penalty kill, and shooting percentage to move onto the Gold Medal Game on home ice.
Canada will not be an easy opponent though. For the first time since he was 19, Sidney Crosby is playing for Canada after missing out do to playoffs and injuries. Crosby has been solid, as has Canada's bevy of younger players including Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin, Sean Couturier, and Jordan Eberle. The mix of players has made Canada's attack potent, but Mike Smith has not been tested in goal since the preliminary round when his performance was questionable at best.
United States of America versus Russia
1:00 pm EST
The USA entered this tournament with a team that seemed weak and likely to go home early. Thanks to some stellar goaltending from Connor Hellebuyck and timely scoring from the teams forwards and defencemen, the USA has made it into the medal games. The USA is going up against a team that is loaded with star power and should only get stronger before the semi-finals. Russia had one open roster spot and Alex Ovechkin will be filling it. He is expected to be playing in the semi-finals, meaning Russia's formidable attack will only be better.
This game may like the movie Miracle all over again. The USA is a team that is lacking star power for the most part and Russia is a team of stars. Both teams have good goalies though and the USA features some excellent NHL players including defencemen Seth Jones and Justin Faulk. Up front Charlie Coyle has shown himself to be a skilled forward with a big body. This game is a mismatch, but it is not a team of complete unknowns against a team of stars. The Americans are the underdogs, but the talent disparity is not as great between the two countries as it once was and while it would still be an upset if the US wins, the symbolism in the win in Lake Placid in 1980 will not be there. There is no longer Communism versus Capitalism story line. It is just a hockey game now.
Charts are from IIHF.com.