USA vs. Canada Olympic women’s hockey: Who has the edge in the gold medal game?

Alex Carpenter R of the United States competes during the ice hockey women's preliminary round group A match between Canada and the United States at Wukesong Sports Centre in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 8, 2022. (Photo by Meng Yongmin/Xinhua via Getty Images)
By The Athletic NHL Staff Feb 14, 2022 31
Anyone who’s spoken about the women’s tournament at the 2022 Winter Olympics for the last couple weeks — or the last couple years — has had to add the qualifier: “Assuming Canada and the U.S. play for the gold medal …”

We can drop that now. Canada and U.S., on Wednesday at 11 p.m. ET., are playing for the gold medal. One of the best rivalries in sports is getting a fresh chapter.

Canada beat the U.S. in the preliminaries 4-2, then rolled through the knockout round. They’re in this spot after a 10-3 win over Switzerland in the semifinals. The road for the U.S. was a little rockier — including a 4-1 win over Finland in their semifinal game — but the destination is the same.

Can the U.S. defend their 2018 gold medal? Will the Canadians close out one of the most remarkable runs of dominance in hockey history? The Athletic’s Hailey Salvian, Shayna Goldman and Sean Gentille kicked around those topics and a few more after the matchup was set on Monday afternoon.

What have we learned about these teams since their preliminary game?

Gentille: Canada’s forward group is the Death Star? How about that? We’re going to get into some of the stats in a second, and they’re overwhelming. The fact that they only managed four goals on 27 shots in the preliminary round is amazing. Night after night, it’s a fireworks show, to the point where the only thing stopping them from “Best Team Canada Ever” status is one more win. The sustainability of the onslaught has been amazing — it’s one thing to do it. It’s another to do it 100 percent of the time.

Goldman: I feel like we learned on, like, Day 1 of the games about the forward group. But the sustainability of their scoring is so impressive. Canada just dominates offensive; they create a ton of shots, a ton of quality chances, and are elite finishers.