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Semifinal Preview: Canada vs. Switzerland

Canada aims to end Switzerland’s underdog run in the semifinals and play for gold

United States v Canada: Group A - 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

The hosts are so far cruising through the tournament, while the Swiss are riding the high of a come-from-behind overtime victory in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Here’s what to look for in their semifinal matchup on Monday.

How We Got Here

The Swiss were responsible for the biggest upset of the Women’s World Championship so far; they won the first quarterfinal on Saturday in come-from-behind fashion against the Russians. After trailing all game, they tied it up with just over two minutes left and then won in overtime on a gorgeous play.

Canada continued their outstanding effort this tournament with a 7-0 victory against Team Germany. The Germans were very shorthanded in that game but battled hard; still, the Canadians wasted little time showcasing their prowess. As has been the case all throughout Worlds, they controlled play and were buzzing for chances practically every shift.

In their first meeting in the round robin, Canada routed Switzerland, 5-0. The Canadians put up a whopping 63 shots on goal and dominated possession, keeping the Swiss from mounting any sustained pressure. The same is likely to hold true in this semifinal matchup, so if Switzerland hopes to pull off another upset, they’ll have to find another path to victory.

Keys to the Game

For Switzerland, they’re going to need to be very opportunistic in this one to have a hope at winning. We know that this is going to be a lopsided matchup; the task for the Swiss will be disrupting as many chances as they can to keep them relatively low-danger, and then making sure they’re getting some chances off the rush the other way and converting at least a couple of times.

They certainly have the skill to do that, and have at least some history of making semifinal matchups against North American teams interesting. They’ll still be without superstar forward Alina Müller, which is a big blow to the offense. And they also haven’t shown an ability to produce consistently at all this tournament. Outside of one great period against ROC, they haven’t connected and created dangerous chances nearly enough. That needs to change to have a hope of beating the Canadians.

The key for Canada is pretty simple. They just need to keep up with everything they’ve been doing. They’ve had no problem dominating teams in every game this tournament; scoring early and often will help put this one away without an issue. On the flip side, if the Swiss make it tough for that to happen, they’ll need to stick with it without getting frustrated, and trust that their chances will come.

Canada’s Key Player: Mélodie Daoust

Daoust has been lights out so far this tournament and has firmly cemented herself as Canada’s biggest threat (among many, to be sure). She leads the 2021 Worlds in scoring with 10 points, off of four goals and six assists. She was one of the team’s best players in the preliminary round win against the U.S. and their biggest difference-maker against Germany in the quarterfinals.

She’s a very dangerous offensive player who has no problem creating chances for herself with her elite skill and finishing, or setting up her teammates with crafty passing. Her line with Sarah Fillier and Natalie Spooner is flying high right now, too—while all of Canada’s forward lines seem to be clicking, they’ve consistently been the best unit in Calgary. If Daoust can keep up her play and production, Canada should advance without an issue.

United States v Switzerland: Group A - 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images

Switzerland’s Key Player: Saskia Maurer

This may come back to bite me if Andrea Brändli ends up starting the semifinal. Brändli is a strong goalie in her own right who’s comfortable facing a high shot volume, but she got yanked early on in the quarterfinal against ROC, so I’m betting on Maurer getting the nod in net this time around.

The Swiss are going to be facing an extremely high-caliber offense; in the round robin, Canada piled on five goals. It would be a major, major upset, but Maurer has shown she can make saves when needed; can she do it when facing so many high-quality shots? She’ll likely need to play the game of her life for Switzerland to have a chance here.

How to Watch

NHL Network in the U.S., TSN in Canada, 5:30 p.m. Mountain time, 7:30 p.m. Eastern time.