Team USA will face-off against Team Canada in a pre-tournament game for the World Cup of Hockey. The game is tonight at 7:00 p.m. and it will be televised on ESPNU.

Here are five keys to the game:

1.) Dictate Play- Team USA:

If Team USA wants to win the game tonight then they’ll have to dictate the play and not give Team Canada much space to work with on the ice. Team Cananda is stacked up front with the extra forward being Corey Perry tonight. Team USA will need to establish a forecheck early because Team Canada’s defense isn’t the best in the tournament. Also, the more time that Team USA spends in the offensive zone, the less time they’ll spend defending in their own enew. Team USA will need solid puck movement and smart passes to establish speed going into the offensive zone and keep those turnovers to a minimum because Team Canada has the talent to convert them into goals. Team USA needs to play its game and not be forced into playing the type of game that Team Canada will want to play.

2.) Stay Out of the Penalty Box- Team USA:

It would be a good idea for Team USA to stay out of the penalty box tonight since Team Canada has not one but two solid power play units. The units both have the potential to be able to move the puck around and score some goals. They’ll be going with the four forwards and one defenseman look for both power play units, but the forwards that will be playing the point position aren’t bad defensively.

It looks as though the following players could be on the power play for Team Canada: Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Ryan Getzlaf, Drew Doughty, Tyler Seguin, Matt Duchene, Joe Thornton, Claude Giroux and Brent Burns. If the power play units can find some kind of chemistry, then good luck stopping them.

3.) Get First Goal/Bring Balanced Attack- Team Canada

If Team Canada wants to get Team USA off its game then getting off to a fast start and scoring the first goal would definitely help. The game is in Columbus so a first goal by Team Canada would most likely quiet a pro-Team USA crowd. It will also help Team Canada if it has a balanced attack with all four lines contributing because then Team USA just can’t focus on one player or line to defend. Team Canada will need to bring that balanced attack for the entire game and not just a portion of the game, otherwise Team USA could easily take advantage of a line matchup.

 

4.) Get Traffic in Front of Goalies- Team Canada

Jonathan Quick will be playing the first two periods for Team USA while Ben Bishop will be playing the third period. If the two goalies can see and track the puck, then they’ll most likely make the save. Team Canada will need to get bodies in front to screen the two goalies forcing them to make some tough saves. Team Canada can also get some goals by having active sticks that are looking for deflections, which would make it harder for the goalies to make saves.

 

5.) Escape With No Injuries- Team USA & Canada

On Day One of the World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament games, there seemed to be a lot of injuries, most of which were minor, but some forced players to leave the game. Vladimir Sobotka of Team Czech Republic left the game, but is expected to rejoin the team after missing the next game. Marian Hossa was injured for Team Europe, but he is expected to be back in the lineup for the next game. JT Miller blocked a shot in his game, but he returned to play the rest of the game for Team North America.

 

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