Team USA secured a bad World Cup of Hockey showing after getting eliminated from the semifinals by Team Canada Tuesday…
The first stint as Captain America did not go as well for Joe Pavelski as his first as captain for the San Jose Sharks. Team USA ensured failure in the World Cup of Hockey by losing to rival Team Canada 4-2 Tuesday, Sept. 20.
The Americans are the only team in the group without a point. They will finish the tournament no higher than third place. (Any win over Team Czech Republic Thursday achieves this.) They have also been outscored 7-2 in the two games.
Team Finland is the only other squad in the World Cup of Hockey without a point through two games. It has also been outscored by five goals (6-1) but is technically still in contention. The first step is a regulation loss by Team North America Wednesday.
Then it all comes down to Thursday’s game against another rival, but it is still a far-fetched scenario. Team Finland needs a four-goal victory to draw even with Team Russia in goal differential that breaks a three-way tie. (Each team went 1-1 against the others.) The margin is even higher with Team North America unless the loss to Team Sweden is by more than one goal.
Only the top two teams from each group advance. Team Canada and Team Europe won their first two games. Thus both advance no matter what is the outcome of their matchup Wednesday.
Any points by Team North America results leaves Team Finland with nothing to play. A regulation loss by Team Sweden Wednesday does the same to Team Russia.
There is no chance that only Team Finland is alive but Team Russia is not. The reverse happens with the most likely result—a regulation Team Sweden win. That is a crushing scenario that leaves the Finns looking at walking away as the only team not to earn a point in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
That leaves Team USA to ponder changes. It put forth a better effort Tuesday than Saturday, but simply lacks an identity.
The Americans proclaimed grit but could not bounce back from goals allowed in either game. A defensive team cannot be this irresponsible in its own end in both World Cup of Hockey games.
Team USA gave up four odd-man rushes in under two full periods to a rather slow Team Europe Saturday. The Americans then gave the game away in a 14-second span Tuesday.
The contributions of San Jose players give its fans something to celebrate. Pavelski got an assist on one of the Team USA goals while every one of his teammates put up a point on Team Canada’s first three goals.
Ryan McDonagh buried a Derek Stepan rebound to put the Americans up just 4:22 into the game. Reigning Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner Patrick Kane scored his first point in the World Cup of Hockey on the play.
Team Canada struck back just 89 seconds later with a play the Sharks use often. The distribution office Joe Thornton runs behind the net sent the puck to teammate Marc-Edouard Vlasic on the point. Pickles sliced a shot-pass wide of the net that bounced off the lively back boards.
This time Matt Duchene played Pavelski’s role at the far post, putting home the carom. Team Canada took the lead for good just 14 seconds later on another rebound. This time, Corey Perry was the beneficiary of a Logan Couture shot. Team USA wasted its challenge hoping to be bailed out by goalie interference.
The biggest American mistake came six minutes later. Brent Burns gathered a misplayed puck in the attacking zone and fed Duchene behind the defense for the easy goal. The Canadians added another goal in the second and withstood a push in the third period.
This was Team Canada’s 12th consecutive international win with NHL participation. The Canadian reputation for politeness was challenged by fans taunting their rivals. Team USA answered their “Na, Na, Hey, Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye” serenade with a goal: TJ Oshie from James van Riemsdyk and Pavelski at 17:28.
One goal does not erase any disappointment. Scoring one more than Team Czech Republic Thursday is not going to do much more, but it is all that remains. Team USA better use it…and use the World Cup of Hockey to learn how to get better.