USA women’s hockey takeaways: USA was the better team against Canada, so why didn’t they get the win?

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 08: Jamie Lee Rattray of Canada scores her team's third goal in the match between USA and Canada during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at National Indoor Stadium on February 8, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
By Shayna Goldman and Sean Gentille Feb 8, 2022 70
There are plenty of ways to look at Canada’s 4-2 preliminary-round win over the United States on Monday.

Let’s focus on two.

The first? Canada won by multiple goals despite getting outgunned for the vast majority of the game, and that a similarly weak performance when these teams meet again — and make no mistake, that borders on certainty — is unlikely. Advantage North.

The second? The U.S., after three wins over inferior opponents and more losses than wins to Canada in the last calendar year, dominated everywhere but the scoreboard. The process was sound, and they should trust it. Advantage South.

On Feb. 17, in all likelihood, we’ll find out which rings true. Monday night brought its own lessons. The Athletic’s Shayna Goldman and Sean Gentille are here to talk about a few of them.

Process over results

Goldman: Team USA put on the pressure to open the tournament, averaging 104.7 shot attempts per game in the first three games, 57.3 shots on goal, and 32.7 slot shots in all situations. All of that culminated in an impressive average of 5.78 expected goals for that they slightly exceeded. 

But that was against a struggling Team Finland, ROC and Switzerland – not Team Canada. See, their opponent to the North has been limiting their opponents to just 30 attempts against per game, on average, and 1.05 expected goals. Again, against opponents that weren’t Team USA. The question was how they’d match up to each other, especially after the United States fell short throughout the Rivalry Series a few months back. 

Tonight, at 5-on-5 at least, Team USA was the better team.