It is Part II of the Canada/USA rivalry at this years World Junior Hockey Championship. The first game was largely disappointing, to be fair, much of the tournament has been that way. Luckily, semi-final Wednesday gave fans two great games, packed with skill and speed. The Russia/USA game was one of the best hockey games I’ve seen in years, at least where entertainment value is concerned. Both teams are highly skilled and play with blistering speed. That made for a track meet, with high quality chances and brilliant saves. I think we can all agree NOBODY wanted that game to end in a shootout. Its quite ridiculous that a shootout decided who moved on, especially after the quality of that game. Who wouldn’t want to watch some 3 on 3 with those players?

Now, its down to Canada vs. USA for all the marbles in the Gold Medal Game. This preview looks at the USA’s systems and how Canada has to handle them, in order to succeed. Video has been taken from their group game against Russia and their semi-final matchup. It goes without saying that special teams will play a key role, as they did in the first match up. The USA scored twice on the power play and Canada struggled to create on their power play. That’s going to have to change if Canada is going to be successful. However, most of the game is played at even strength, which is where this preview will focus. One of the key things that changes, is the goaltender. Carter Hart gets the start and he will have to be solid, no weak ones, if Canada is to win. As always, the overall keys to success conclude the post.

What Makes USA Successful

Offensive Zone

  • High – low –high plays to generate SCF (PP)
  • Taking puck from below goal line to the net
  • Used space on ½ wall to create (Keller, Bracco)

Defensive Zone

  • Clogging shooting lanes
  • Aggressive: didn’t allow set-up at even strength or short-handed
  • Overload to strong side to pressure

USA Cycle & Board Play

usa-cycle

Key Points

  • Like to use up the boards to D man coming down
  • D-man can drive to net or use support option
  • All lines effective on play below dots
  • Keller holds puck – force him

usa-cycle2

Key Points

  • 3 players deep: there is opportunity to catch them on the counter
  • Encourage physicality to stop momentum
  • Don’t allow clear lanes to the net

greenway

How to Contain

  • using Greenway as an example
  • D-man: physical
  • Keeps player tight to the wall – between player & net
  • Stick on puck
  • Force up the wall & away from net
  • Force long-range shot

USA Offensive Zone

bracco2

Carry-ins

  • Bracco/Keller will streak through for entry
  • Both will hold the puck and wait
  • Key: force them & watch passing lanes
  • Side note: Bracco uses 6 mohawks to continually face the play and throw off defenders. This skill allows him to move the puck as soon as a passing lane opens.

whiteg

Side to Side

  • USA swings puck to weak side to open & spread coverage
  • Russia collapses & gets caught: Canada can’t allow that
  • Keeping players to outside is key & disrupt direct passes

USA Defensive Zone Coverage

usa-dzone

Strengths

  • Aggressive puck recovery
  • Overload the strong side & support
  • Rotate well

usa-dzone2

Opportunities

  • Vulnerable to side to side movement
  • Roy/Dubois/Gauthier line use size against smaller D below the goal line
  • Use points – often left unattended

rusg2

How to Capitalize

  • USA collapses – below goal line and forwards come below dots
  • Cycle & play below dots & goal line
  • Move puck to point when they collapse
  • Get shot through, forwards find area in front

kaprizovg1

  • USA is overaggressive
  • Kaprizov (7) cycles down, loses Terry (20)
  • 2 players (33 & 4) take 1 Russian, he cycles for wrap
  • Option: can cycle & pass out front
  • Use the over-aggression to your advantage

Canada: Defensive Zone Keys

  • Be physical & keep puck tight to the wall
  • Protect lanes to the net
  • Force the puck up & away from the net
  • Limit speed & puck control on entries & in D-zone

Canada: Offensive Zone Keys

  • Roy/Gauthier/Dubois line: use size to wear down D
  • Use plays below dots & goal line to generate
  • Capitalize on aggressiveness by using points & quick net drives
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