The dejection Team USA felt on Friday afternoon was palpable: so close to upending Team Canada for a chance to play for the gold, and yet so far away.
But there isn't much time for the American men to wallow in their misery. Patrick Kane and Team USA still have a chance to bring home some hardware, the bronze. To do it, however, they’ll have to get through Finland. So while we get ready for this final weekend of international hockey and thank God the U.S. game is at a not-so-ungodly hour (9 a.m. CT), let’s look at the Five Things to watch for in Saturday’s U.S.-Finland game.
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1. Shake it off. Yes, Team USA is probably still reviewing what it could have done, should have done, in its 1-0 loss to Team Canada. The Americans have to forget about it quick, because they’ll be facing a Finland team that’s as ticked off to be playing in the bronze-medal game as they are. Let it go, boys, let it go.
2. Get that offense clicking again. The U.S. didn’t have trouble scoring goals prior to Canada’s shutout on Friday. Phil Kessel (five goals, three assists) has been a monster. Joe Pavelski and James van Riemsdyk each have five points. Three others, including Kane, have four points. The U.S. team will have speed on its side. On Saturday, it has to garner more possession time and make Tuukka Rask or Kari Lehtonen sweat more than Carey Price did on Friday.
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3. Prepare for Team Canada, part II. Yep, Finland will be coming with the same mantra that Team Canada did on Friday: stifle and shut down the U.S. squad. Anyone who saw the Finland-Sweden semifinal on Friday morning knows that’s coming again; it wasn’t scintillating hockey so much as a trap competition. Team USA will have to make room, because Finland isn’t going to give it any.
4. It's Selanne’s last (international) hurrah. This one’s a no-brainer. We don’t care where your allegiance is, whether or not you’re an Anaheim Ducks fan once the Olympics are over: You have to love Teemu Selanne. The man’s been an incredible ambassador for hockey on both sides of the pond, and he’s looked pretty damn good in his sixth (and unless he goes bionic, his last) Olympics. No matter who wins, we salute the Finnish Flash.
5. Who’s our pick to click? Of course we’re going to have one. We’re going with the Blackhawks’ Kane. He has four assists thus far in the tournament; he’s more than due for a goal — or two.