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Oh Canada! Team USA Underdogs Up North

Team Canada heavy favorites in Sunday showdown
By Ryan Fowler, WhatIfSports.com
February 17th, 2010
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It's 5 o'clock somewhere.

That is everywhere, but Vancouver, British Columbia, at least for the next two weeks.

The International Olympic Committee committed the ultimate party foul, shutting down "Miller Time" until after the closing ceremonies.

Team USA's goalie Ryan Miller was ordered to remove the popular namesake slogan from his patriotic hockey mask before Tuesday's Olympic duel against Switzerland. It turns out the IOC views the branding as "propoganda" and too closely linked to advertising.

However, the Buffalo Sabres' main man between the pipes may need to resort to heavy doses of malted barley and hops come Sunday if the Whatifsports.com computers are accurate once again.

Using our site's Dream Teams tool, I loaded both the Team USA and Canadian rosters based off players' statistics following the completion of the 2008-09 NHL season. I then used our free NHL SimMatchup feature to simulate the game.

The hockey simulation engine allowed us to go ahead and simulate Team USA's Sunday showdown versus Team Canada 1,001 times.


Team USA vs Team Canada
MatchupWin%Avg Score
Team USA29.12.7Boxscore
@ Team Canada70.93.9Simulate Game

The strength of Team USA hockey has no doubt grown since NHL players joined the party during the 1998 Winter Olympic Games in Nagano. However, the boys (most of the 2010 Olympic roster consists of players 25 years-old and younger) still have huge hurdles to clear before they can hang with the Canadian national team.

Crosby

The presence of talent like Sidney Crosby, Rick Nash and veteran goalkeepers Roberto Luongo and Marc Andre-Fleury has really added some firepower to Team Canada as demonstrated by their 8-0 thrashing of Team Norway.

Selecting optimal starting lines and goalkeepers, the Whatifsports.com computer predicts the Canadians won't skate away with an 8-goal blow-out over the United States. But they should win the majority of the time. The computers give the edge to Team Canada 70% of the time by an average margin of victory of more than one goal.

In Team USA's first contest, Ryan Miller was solid for three periods deflecting 14 of 15 Swiss shots. But to give you an idea of the break from reality Miller enjoyed playing Switzerland, he normally ecounters twice as many shots on goal during his sixty minutes on the ice.

Ryan Miller

If you check out our example Team USA vs Team Canada boxscore from one of the simulated games, you will see Miller will be in front of a firing squad for three periods on Sunday.

The USA goalie should face a more realistic 47 shots on goal, five of which, in this scenario, will find the back of the net.

It should be noted that besides the Alex Ovechkin-led Russians, Team Canada is the favorite to win gold in Vancouver. So, the computers prediction of a convincing Team Canada win by more than a goal should come as little surprise to most avid hockey fans.

Then again, an upset on Sunday could lead to a different application of "Miller Time" come, say, 5 o'clock.

How would you like to have Gordie Howe on your roster alongside Wayne Gretzky? Sign up today for a free trial of Whatifsports.com's SimLeague Hockey.

Ryan Fowler is the Digital Content Manager for Whatifsports.com and can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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