The winner of Group A will be decided in tonight’s game between Canada and the United States, and for the first time in the tournament (sorry, Switzerland) each team will be playing against a gold medal contender. Both teams escaped with narrow victories against the Swiss, and both teams hammered on Norway. The winner gets a bye to the semi-finals, while the loser plays a quarterfinal game against one of the tournament’s lower seeded teams.
We noted yesterday that Martin Brodeur will be between the pipes for Canada, and that’s the safe choice for Mike Babcock. There’s also been a bit of line juggling, as Philadelphia Flyers forward Mike Richards will play left wing on the first line, joining Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash, who moves to the right side. On defence, once again Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will not be playing together, and according to Babcock Shea Weber – who leads Canada in time on ice with an average of 23:12 per game – will likely continue as the team’s number one defenceman. I like Weber as much as the next guy, but I’ll admit I didn’t see him as the best defenceman on the team.
On the American side, Ron Wilson says he doesn’t plan to match any particular unit against Sidney Crosby, though it’s entirely possible that he’s being disingenuous. On the other hand, when the opposition’s top three centres are Crosby, Thronton and Getzlaf, line matching almost becomes a moot point. Wilson already has his shootout guys picked, based on who has had the most success against Brodeur.
Don’t forget to check out Steve Kouleas’ pre-game take: