Burke: USA vs. Canada Prediction and Preview

By Adam Burke  (VSiN.com) 

February 11, 2022 11:13 AM
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The biggest game of the weekend is not the Super Bowl, it is actually tonight (11:10 p.m. ET), as Team USA and Team Canada meet in the 2022 Winter Olympics to see which team ends up in the driver’s seat in Group A. The Americans defeated Team China 8-0 and Canada jumped out early and coasted to a 5-1 win over Team Germany. (Okay, so maybe it is actually the Super Bowl)

This line has moved around quite a bit. The early line at DraftKings was initially Canada -150/USA + 120 and then got moved all the way out to Canada -250/USA + 190. As I’m writing this, it is Canada -205/USA + 165 and a total of 5.5.

It is hard to say you weren’t impressed with an 8-0 win, but the Americans struggled at times with the Chinese team. They had issues getting out of the defensive zone crisply and had little in the way of a transition game, which has become a hallmark of American hockey in recent years. The team’s skill was very evident with some well-placed shots and some dominant shifts on the cycle in the offensive zone, but the U.S. team had two power play goals, a 4-on-4 goal and eventually overwhelmed an undermanned opponent with a 6-0 edge over the final 30 minutes of play.

Canada played a much stronger opponent in Team Germany, in what was a rematch of the 2018 semifinals in Pyeongchang, a game Germany won 4-3. This time, the Canadians jumped ahead 3-0 with a first period barrage that featured three goals in under six minutes, including two goals in 32 seconds. The rest of the game was pretty even, but Canada’s strength along the boards and structured play stood out to me.

The Americans were a little disjointed, as is to be expected in this type of tournament with 16 players aged 23 or under and some grizzled vets. The Canadians have a much more experienced team and seemed to be sharper with the details of the game. They won 62% of their faceoffs, while the U.S. team only went 50/50 with the Chinese.

I do think the U.S. team is a live dog tonight. Their ceiling is very high based on their talent and skill. Drew Commesso really impressed me in net with how well he challenged shooters and played with his leg pads. His rebound control was solid and he played big in the net. Eddie Pasquale also looked good for Team Canada.

While I lean with the Americans because of the price, I actually like the under 5.5 more. On the big ice surface (13 feet wider than an NHL rink), I think we see a lot of cycling along the boards for both teams. The Americans struggled a bit with the physical play of China and it will likely be a factor against Canada. The fact that Team USA didn’t have many clean breakouts will allow Canada to get set up defensively. For the Americans, their speed will take away time and space for Canada and should limit the number of shots on goal allowed. I’m looking for a good, spirited, tight-checking affair tonight.

Pick: USA/Canada Under 5.5

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