Including the exhibition schedule, Team Canada has played four games at the World Cup and outshot its opponents by a combined margin of 179 to 101.
That’s an average margin of 45 to 25, and it underscores the challenge Team USA will face tonight in Toronto. A loss of any kind for the Americans and they’ll have no chance of advancing to the semifinals.
At online sportsbook Bovada, Team Canada is at -300 on the moneyline, meaning a bettor would need to risk $300 to win just $100 on a Canadian victory. That’s a pretty measly return, but then, so are the chances of an American upset, according to most observers.
Jonathan Quick will be in goal again for Team USA. He was the main reason the Americans were able to beat the Canadians, 4-2, on Sep. 9 in exhibition play, stopping 29 of 30 shots in two periods, before Ben Bishop went nine for 10 in the third.
That same game, Carey Price struggled in Team Canada’s net, but it was his first start in nine months so he had a pretty good excuse. He’s since rediscovered his old form.
On Saturday, Quick allowed three goals on just 17 shots in a dismal loss to Team Europe, but he could hardly be blamed for the result. The first goal came on a 2-on-1; the second was on a 2-on-0. Even the third was tricky, as Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was able to tip a wobbly one-timer home.
“I think we’re going to be able to chip out some of the glorious odd-man rushes we gave them early on for a couple of freebies,” said head coach John Tortorella. “I think we’ll get those chipped out, but the part of the game that bothers me most is creating some scoring chances, some better quality scoring chances.”
So not only will the Americans need a big game from their goalie, they’ll need to find a way to score some goals. That’s no easy task against a stacked Canadian side that takes a ton of pride in its defensive game. The Canadians, dating back to the 2014 Olympics, haven’t surrendered a goal in their last three meaningful games. The Americans, in stark contrast, haven’t scored in their last three meaningful games.
As expected, Dustin Byfuglien will replace Jack Johnson in the Team USA lineup. Up front, it’ll be Brandon Dubinsky — not David Backes — who comes out to make way for Kyle Palmieri.
Related: Mike Babcock warns against Canadian complaceny