By Jay Zawaski-
(CBS) After all that hype, Team USA went out with a whimper, losing 1-0 to Canada in the Olympic hockey semifinals. Again, as I wrote Thursday morning, Canada dominated an inferior opponent. Again, the scoreboard made the game look much, much closer than it was in reality.
From start to finish, Team USA failed to generate a sustained offensive attack. Its 31 shots on goal mostly consisted of 40-foot shots. Whenever something seemed to be developing, Canada’s defense could converge and shut the Americans down. And that was in the rare situation that they actually had control of the puck. The Americans even struggled on the power play, which was their best chance to win.
If you’re a fan of Team USA and the Chicago Blackhawks, now you know exactly how it feels to be an opponent of the Hawks. The Blackhawks are a great team because of their abilities to control possession and use their speed to recover defensively should something go wrong, like a turnover or odd-man break. The Blackhawks are one of the deepest and most skilled teams in the NHL. It’s their talent level that makes them so difficult to beat — just like the Canadians.
Canada is simply the superior team. It’s better and deeper than Team USA in nearly every category, including coaching. The Americans are the second- or third-best team in the tournament. They just had the misfortune of running into Canada before the gold-medal game. There’s no reason to be upset or bitter about the loss. Effort wasn’t an issue. Team USA did what it could to remain competitive. I don’t think I’d have done anything different strategically.
Bottom line: The better team won.
Expect another low final score when Canada faces Sweden for the gold medal on Sunday. Who will win? Well, I’m betting on talent.
I’m betting on Canada.
Jay Zawaski covers the Blackhawks for CBSChicago.com and 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.