Paul Stastny figures there’s no sense in dancing around the U.S.-Canada rivalry.
“I think it will be the true meaning of intense,” Stastny told the Denver Post of Friday’s looming semifinal matchup. “You know the guys on Canada, but we don’t like them. And they don’t like us.”
Stastny’s comments are a reflection of what’s become international hockey’s fiercest rivalry. The Canadians and Americans are set to meet in the playoff round for the third time in the last four Olympics — the only difference now is that, unlike 2002 and 2010, the two teams are playing to get into the gold medal game, as opposed to playing in it.
With that in mind, it’ll be interesting to watch NHL teammates try to best each other on Friday.
Stastny, part of the U.S. team that lost to Canada four years ago, will be up against Avs teammate Matt Duchene, who draws into the Canadian lineup for the injured John Tavares. There are numerous other examples of teammates facing off, including Kings defenseman Drew Doughty taking on Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick.
For Doughty, the opportunity is priceless.
We want those bragging rights for the rest of the season. For the rest of your life, really,” Doughty told the L.A. Times. “I’m really close with both those guys, Quickie and Brownie. It’s going to be fun [Friday].
“I want to beat them so badly. We’re big rivals, us and the U.S., especially after the last Olympics. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Such is the life of athletes hard-wired for competition. Stastny perhaps explained it best.
“When you’re playing for your country, there’s always been a rivalry between the United States and Canada,” he said. “You don’t look at the names on the back of the uniform.
“You only look at the logo on the front.”