Tuesday, January 5, 2010

WJC Final Preview: USA VS. Canada

As we are just a couple of hours away from the start of the World Junior Championship Gold Medal Game between the USA and Canada. Let's take a look at the tale of the tape as we get ready for the Gold Medal Game. For Canada, they hoping to make it 6 WJC Titles in a row while the USA is looking to win only their 2nd WJC Title ever where they were the last team besides Canada to win the WJC Gold back in 2004 when the tournament was held in Finland.

The Team USA will be playing one of the biggest games for the USA National Team since the 2002 Olympic Gold Medal Game as the USA will look to end Canada's Gold Medal Streak. For the USA, they will be playing the underdog role as the Canadians will have the medal streak, the crowd and home ice advantage on their side.

However the USA has some strong momentum with impressive victories over Finland in the Quarterfinals where they controlled the entire game, then on Sunday against Sweden, a strong 3rd period where they scored 3 goals to put them through after being tied through 2 periods.

For Canada, after having to comeback from a SO Win against the USA on New Years Eve where all they needed was a 6-1 win over Switzerland after the Swiss pulled off the biggest upset of this year's tournament after pulling off a 3-2 win over Russia in the Quarterfinals.

In goal, the Americans have reallied on Jack Campbell where have gotten some great support from players Kyle Palmeri and Jordan Schorder while the defense has giving up just 13 goals through the 6 games with a shutout against Switzerland in the Group Stage. The Canadians will counter with Mike Lee as the Phoenix Coyotes prospect will look to improve his outlook and his hopes of making the NHL soon.

On the Special Teams, this is where the game could turn as the Special Teams, especially on the Power Play will need to improve as a huge penitential game changer where a 5 MIN power play early in the 3rd period against Sweden was for the most part harmless.

Fortunately, they were able to come back with that and beat Sweden. Canada is much more aggressive with the penalty kill and has a dominate power play that put the USA down in a hole quickly. If your looking where the game could be won or lost, it could be the Special Teams.

Bottom Line: Both teams have among the best Junior Programs in the World and this should be a classic final. Despite the Gold Medal Streak, the home ice and the fact that Canada had to play one fewer game then the USA, the Americans will use they momentum from the QF's and SF's to win the game and end the Gold Medal Streak.

My Pick: U.S.A. 4 Canada 3 (OT)

Here's a look at how both teams got to the Final.

For the USA

Group Stage:

12/26: VS. Slovakia W 7-3 (1-2, 4-1, 2-0)

12/27: VS. Switzerland W 3-0 (0-0, 1-0, 2-0)

12/29: VS. Latvia W 12-1 (6-0, 1-1, 5-0)

12/31: VS. Canada L 4-5 (SO) (1-1, 2-1, 1-2, 0-0, 0-1)

Quarterfinals 1/2: VS. Finland W 6-2 (2-0, 1-1, 3-1)

Semifinals 1/3: VS. Sweden W 5-2 (1-0, 1-2, 3-0)

For Team Canada

Group Stage

12/26: VS. Latvia 16-0 (5-0, 6-0, 5-0)

12/28: VS. Switzerland W 6-0 (2-0, 3-0, 1-0)

12/29: VS. Slovakia W 8-2 (3-0, 4-1, 1-1)

12/31: VS. U.S.A. W 5-4 (SO) (1-1, 2-1, 1-2, 0-0, 1-0)

Quarterfinals: Won Group and Earned QF Bye

Semifinals 1/3: VS. Switzerland W 6-1 (1-0, 2-1, 3-0)

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