The U.S. is in a dire situation after just one game at the World Cup of Hockey. With their tournament lives on the line, the Americans will meet arch rival Canada on Tuesday night.
Team USA is coming off of a 3-0 loss to Team Europe, while Canada rolled past the Czech Republic with ease in a 6-0 victory.
The Canadians now find themselves in a familiar situation as they’ve ended Team USA’s title hopes in each of the last two Olympics, beating them in the gold medal game in 2010 and ousting the Americans in the semis in 2014. Most wouldn’t have expected Canada to have the same opportunity in the preliminary round, but here we are.
Here’s a look at how you can follow this crucial game between traditional hockey rivals and three things to know before you settle in.
When: Tuesday, Sept. 20, 8 p.m. ET
Where to watch on TV: ESPN
How to watch on live stream: ESPN3.com, WatchESPN app
Three things to know
1. Team USA is playing for their tournament lives
There are a number of scenarios that can still play out, but the U.S. essentially can only keep their tournament hopes alive with a win over Canada. Europe already holds the head-to-head tie-breaker against the Americans, regardless of what happens against Canada, thanks to their 3-0 win over the U.S.
Team USA could probably use a little help from the Czech Republic, too. If the Czechs beat Europe Monday afternoon and the Americans can manage to beat Canada, they suddenly have a chance to finish as high as first in the group.
The way this round-robin sets up, a lot can still happen, but the only way the U.S. can have any say in their tournament fate is by beating their North American rivals Tuesday.
2. Two sobering statistics for Team USA
While Team USA managed to pick up a win over Canada in their pre-tournament game last week, Canada has already played three games since then. That has allowed them to work out the kinks and make the necessary adjustments. They were machine-like in a 6-0 win over the Czechs.
But here are the numbers that will really give the U.S. pause heading into this game. Carey Price, Team Canada’s No. 1 who has three games under his belt since returning from the knee injury that ended his season in 2015-16, looks completely locked in right now. On top of that, Price has a stunning shutout streak going in international tournaments right now:
One of the games in that streak includes his 1-0 shutout of Team USA in the semifinals in Sochi. He’s the best goaltender in the world for a reason and he has one of the best possession teams on the planet in front of him. Goals are already hard to come by.
Meanwhile, Team USA is enduring a shutout streak of a different variety in international tournaments. Dating back to Sochi, Team USA has not scored a goal in their last nine periods of international hockey. Their scoreless streak runs 197 minutes and 59 seconds, dating back to Phil Kessel‘s third-period goal in a 5-1 win over the Czech Republic in the 2014 Olympic quarterfinal.
Kessel was notably not named to Team USA for the World Cup, despite his being the leading goal scorer in Sochi. It turned out that he needed surgery on a hand injury and wouldn’t have been available anyway, but Team USA sure could use a guy like that right now.
3. Tortorella expected to make roster adjustments
After the disastrous 3-0 loss, Tortorella came under fire for scratching offensive-minded defenseman Dustin Byfuglien and forward Kyle Palmieri, who scored 30 goals for the New Jersey Devils last season, for that game. When your team can’t pressure a fairly old defensive group and put a few pucks past that particular team, the head coach deserved every ounce of blame he got in the aftermath.
It looks like both Byfuglien and Palmieri could draw into the lineup Tuesday, however. It is not yet clear who would sit out, but both were in regular rotations during Sunday’s practice. Something needs to change quickly if the Americans are going to have any success against the vaunted Canadian roster.
Byfuglien played a lot in the pre-tournament games against Canada and his physical presence will be particularly valued. But the Americans are in desperate need of goals more than anything else. Both of these players could help in that department.
Meanwhile, Mike Babcock noted that he expects to keep his roster exactly the same from Saturday’s big win. That means Claude Giroux and Jake Muzzin are likely scratches again. When you see Giroux’s name as a healthy scratch, it just speaks to the embarrassment of riches on this Canadian roster.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / USA faces Canada in must-win game at World Cup: How to watch on TV, live stream