Well, you know what they say about best-laid plans. The organizers of the World Cup of Hockey placed Canada and the United States in the same group thinking the two squads would get a pass to the semifinal, then meet in the tournament final. Canada did its part. USA failed miserably.
The dream World Cup matchup has fizzled – as has ESPN’s viewership for the event - thanks to Canada’s 4-2 dismantling of Team USA in the preliminary round of the tournament. Thanks to two goals in the space of 1:14 and three in less than seven minutes, Canada is, as expected, off to the semifinal. And USA is off to training camp as soon as it wraps up a nothing game against the Czech Republic in the last preliminary round game Thursday night.
The loss by the Americans also clinched a berth for Team Europe, who is also 2-0-0, in the semifinal. All that remains to be determined is the seeding for the two teams in Group A, which will be decided when the two teams meet Wednesday night.
About the only thing that set this game apart from all the others Canada has played on the international stage of late is that it gave up a goal in this one for the first time in four games. And that actually made it interesting for almost 30 seconds. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh scored to give USA a lead at 4:22 of the first period, before Matt Duchene came back with the first of his two goals in the game 29 seconds later. Fourteen seconds after that, Canada took the lead on a goal by Corey Perry and never looked back.
In a game that was hyped as a potentially physical affair, it was rather tame. The American team that was supposed to be so passionate and motivated looked uninterested in competing after it hit a bout of adversity. Patrick Kane, the reigning scoring champion and Hart Trophy winner and one of the best puck possession players in the NHL, had a white sweater in his face every time he looked up.
Playing a team like Canada can make a hockey team look pretty bad. When that team is as flawed as USA’s was Tuesday night, the gap between the two looks even bigger. After this World Cup, the margin isn’t even close.