Stop me if you’ve heard this match up before: Canada and USA will play for a gold medal at the World Championships.
It’s a tale as old as time, song as old as rhyme. This is the way. In fact, every Worlds gold medal game but one have been between these two teams (the lone outlier was, of course, 2019). Canada is searching for its first gold medal at the tournament since 2012, while the US is looking to make it six straight.
Expect Maximum Spice Levels with this one, folks.
How We Got Here
Let’s start at the end, and by the end I mean the end of the preliminary round, when these two teams met in Group A play. It was a Thursday night, and both teams were undefeated in group play. Marie-Philip Poulin did not play after taking a puck to her neck in a previous game and being held out for precautionary reasons. But the Canadians did not fear. No, they crushed the US, routing them 5-1.
They both then cruised through the quarterfinals. The US put up a 10-spot over Japan (thought they did allow two goals, a history-making event for the Japanese team) and Canada put up seven on Germany.
It was a bit more of the same in the semifinals, though with markedly lower scores. The US overtook Finland 3-0 and Canada beat Switzerland 4-0.
Keys To The Game
For the US, it’s pretty simple: play better than Thursday. Though let’s be real, that’s not hard to do.
Front and center in that area is for the US to remember how to play defense. Miscue after miscue has bitten them in the behind. It’s not brutal out there behind the blue line and they need to tighten the ship, especially considering Canada has Poulin back and has even more depth and firepower than Thursday.
🚨 CANADA GOAL! 🚨— The Ice Garden (@TheIceGarden) August 26, 2021
JAMIE LEE RATTRAY LASER off a turnover by Megan Keller that goes straight to her stick.
CAN 3 - 0 USA pic.twitter.com/28VaamwwbY
It’ll be interesting to see who the US starts as goalie. Alex Cavallini was in net in that preliminary game and also in the quarterfinal game, where she gave up two goals to Japan. Meanwhile, Nicole Hensley shut out Finland in the semifinals and has only given up one goal all tournament. Their third option, Aerin Frankel, hasn’t seen the ice at all this tournament.
Canada will just need to keep on being Canada (and not panic). It’s clear they are prepared, ready, and want to win on home ice. They’re coming into this game with the hot hand. They’re loose, are clicking well and it’s showing on the ice. Especially after Thursday, it’s their game to lose.
I think Mélodie Daoust might take things too seriously. She just doesn't seem to be having a good time. pic.twitter.com/4L3NPlHehD— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) August 31, 2021
USA’s Key Player: Whoever they got with in goal
Is it cheating to go with a player we don’t know yet? Maybe, but I don’t care. Canada has outscored their opponents 13-1 in their last three games. They’ve taken just over 300 shots this tournament. Between that and the way the US’s defense has been playing, the goaltender really needs to be sharp.
Team Canada is on a mission. Gold Medal Game tomorrow, Canada vs USA.— Mikael Nahabedian (@hunterofstats) August 31, 2021
(Also, @BrandliAndrea casually saving more than 3 goals above expected in a game for the second time of the tournament. An outstanding performance tonight.) pic.twitter.com/3VNGEIHedE
Canada’s Key Player: Sarah Fillier
“We tried to take her under our wing. She’s so talented.” - Melodie Daoust on her linemate during an intermission interview
On a line with Natalie Spooner and Daoust, the youngest of the trio has made quite the impact. It has to be tough centering a line with players of that stature, but she has slotted in nearly perfectly. Fillier has a 67 percent face off win rate, which has definitely helped contribute to her line’s offensive power. All three of them are in the top 10 for goals scored and points in the tournament.
How to watch
TSN and NHL Network at 7:30 p.m Eastern, 5:30 p.m. Mountain