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Point/Counterpoint: Which men's hockey team has the better shot at gold?

By Dan Madigan and Elan DeCarlo
On February 5, 2014

After narrowly defeating the United States 3-2 in overtime to win the gold medal in Vancouver in 2010, Team Canada is once again the favorite to be at the top of the medal stand in Sochi. As always, Team Canada is loaded with premier NHL players, captained by star center Sidney Crosby and supported by forward Patrick Sharp and defenseman Shea Weber. Simply put, it's gold medal or bust for this team of superstars.
Yes, Team Canada won gold in 2010, but Team USA is bringing back the defending MVP of that tournament, goalie Ryan Miller, the heart and soul of this squad. Also, former Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick is on the roster to solidify the goalie position. The strength of Team USA is their goaltending, which should be formidable enough to slow down the vaunted Canadian attack.
Dan: Although Quick and Miller are certainly formidable between the pipes, they will still be hard pressed to slow down this offense. Quick has little Olympic experience, and Miller simply hasn't been as good recently as he was 2010. This offense features 5 of the top 10 NHL points leaders this season and will push every defense and goalie it faces to their limits.
Elan: Team Canada is loaded with talent, no doubt. The thing is, as Herb Brooks so eloquently stated in "Miracle", "You cannot win on talent alone." Team USA has not taken home the gold since 1980. There is a hunger to win on this team. They are a grind it out squad, with three NHL captains (Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan and David Backes), this team will fight with everything they have. It has to be mentioned, the Americans have lethal firepower. Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel currently sit fourth and fifth in points in the NHL.
Dan: Team USA is well known for their heart and teamwork, and although this Canadian team is talented, they will also rely on their playing style to win gold. Team Canada picked players that would fit best their up-tempo style that they believe is necessary to succeed on the larger international ice. This meant leaving stars like Martin St. Louis off the roster, but results in a team that will gel fast and wreak havoc on both ends of the ice.
Elan: When picking the roster, Team USA kept in mind the bigger ice surface. Their task was to add hard-skating puck-movers both at the forward and defenseman spots, so players like Ryan McDonagh, Brooks Orpik and John Carlson, although not household names, will have a major impact on a shift-to-shift basis. However, the most important player on the ice is the captain, Zach Parise. He scored one of the most dramatic goals in USA hockey history in 2010. Parise, a hardnosed forward with a nose for the puck, epitomizes what Team USA stands for; effort, toughness, clutch. If he gets going, Team USA will be tough to handle.
 


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