With Team Canada set to play the U.S. in the WJHC semi-final on Monday, Bob McKenzie offers some thoughts on who has the edge in goal and why the American power play has the potential to be lethal.
Between The Pipes
From what we've seen so far, the U.S. absolutely has a sizeable advantage in the goaltending department, no question about it.
Team Canada's goaltending has not been stellar, it has not been great. In fact, they've given up at least one bad goal in each of the games that they've played.
It was Mark Visentin's turn to come in against Switzerland to try and seize the No. 1 job and make a statement. Early on, he didn't make the statement and if he did, he said, "I'm going to let in a bad goal early on and make things a little bit anxious for everybody."
He wasn't very busy, and when he was, there was some uncertainty in his game. That was punctuated very early in the game, 69 seconds in, letting in a goal that can only be described as bad on so many levels. That said, he still had the confidence to come out and handle the puck and there were some anxious moments here and there after the fact, but he did close the door. I thought he maintained some composure. It would have been very easy for him to lose it after that and I think he hung with it.
Olivier Roy has also struggled to find the puck at times in this tournament. In the big picture, there's only been one loss for Team Canada, and it was Roy against Sweden. Again, there were more questionable goals in that game than in any other game, and that's the one where you can really point your finger and say it cost them the hockey game to a large degree.
When you stack it up against the U.S. goaltending, right now on paper, the edge goes to the United States.
The Americans have a dangerous power play. It's a little bit different. Instead of quarterbacking it from up high on the blue line, they like to quarterback it from down low near the goal line; that's where the distribution comes from.
Keep in mind, though, the quality of opponents that the Americans saw in the preliminary round is probably not as strong as what Canada faced, but that U.S. power play has the ability to be lethal.