Michael Russo breaks down U.S.-Canada semifinal

  • Updated: February 21, 2014 - 10:37 AM
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Minnesota connections abound on the U.S. team. From left, Ryan Suter, former Gopher Phil Kessel and Zach Parise, Suter’s Wild teammate, celebrated a Parise goal.

Photo: Matt Slocum • Associated Press,

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men’s hockey SEMIFINAL preview

Star Tribune hockey writer Michael Russo’s thoughts heading into Friday’s U.S.-Canada semifinal:

A mere hour after helping lift the United States to a breezy quarterfinal victory over the Czech Republic, Zach Parise closed an e-mail to me with, “Need some revenge!”

Parise wasn’t even out of the Sochi rink, and the U.S. captain had already moved by the Czechs and was focusing squarely on Friday’s anticipated semifinal date with rival Canada — the nation that ruined the Americans’ gold medal aspirations four years ago with Sidney Crosby’s “Golden Goal” in overtime of the championship.

If the Americans have any shot, they must keep “Sid” off the scoresheet. The fear is that the best player in the world is due — strike that, overdue — to break out. Crosby is under much Canadian scrutiny because he has yet to score a goal.

Of course, this is a virtual All-Star team, and even though the Canadians suffered a big blow by losing superstar John Tavares for the tournament with a knee injury and even if the Americans hold Crosby in check, there are other stars just itching to score their first goals, including Corey Perry, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Marleau and Martin St. Louis.

Canada’s offense has come largely from its blue line, with seven of its 13 goals coming from sharpshooting defensemen Shea Weber and Drew Doughty. Of the six goals from forwards, three came from Jeff Carter against lowly Austria.

So Canada hasn’t been that impressive. The United States has, sweeping through the tougher group, and seems to be built more like a team (not an All-Star team), combining great goaltending with a mobile blue line, impressive role players and some of the NHL’s hottest goal scorers entering the tournament.

Former Gopher Phil Kessel and Joe Pavelski haven’t slowed, combining for six goals and 13 points.

If the Americans win, those with Minnesota ties are bound to be a big reason.

Kessel leads with five goals and eight points. St. Louis Blues captain David Backes has been an absolute horse, scoring three goals. Former Mr. Hockey Ryan McDonagh has been terrific alongside the Wild’s Ryan Suter, who had three assists against the Czechs.

And if it gets to a shootout, a T.J. Oshie vs. Toews showdown will be incredible drama. Heck, we can even lay claim to New Jersey native James van Riemsdyk, who has moved to Orono and has scintillated with five points.

And then, of course, there’s Parise. He started to receive criticism for zeros across the board in three games before scoring against the Czechs and playing on a line that did threaten with Patrick Kane and Ryan Kesler. In six pool games in two Olympics, Parise has no goals and three assists. In four medal-round games, he has five goals and an assist, scoring at least one goal in every medal-round game in Vancouver.

As Parise proved in the waning seconds of the 2010 gold medal game, we know the Wild’s Energizer bunny can come through in the clutch.

The Americans are hungry. They’d love nothing more than to put a titanic dent into Canada’s gold medal repeat dreams and even play a major part in preventing their rival from medaling.

Should be fun.

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Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Nashville
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 50 2nd Half 9:57
Chattanooga 55
Kansas 52 2nd Half 11:58
Rhode Island 35
Wisconsin 22 1st Half 7:11
Georgetown 23
FIU 22 1st Half 4:23
USC Upstate 22
Long Island 3:00 PM
Stony Brook
San Diego 3:30 PM
Xavier
Illinois 4:00 PM
Indiana State
Western Ky 5:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Cal State Fullerton 5:00 PM
Wright State
Michigan State 5:30 PM
Rider
UCLA 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 7:30 PM
Western Mich
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 18 1st Half 7:25
Washington 19
Wichita State 5 1st Half 10:51
Fla Gulf Coast 13
Wisconsin 3:15 PM
(1) South Carolina
BYU 5:00 PM
BYU-Hawaii
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Montana
Illinois 5:00 PM
(9) Kentucky
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
Central Michigan 7:00 PM
Richmond
Oklahoma 7:15 PM
South Florida
Princeton 7:30 PM
Wake Forest
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Butler
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