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Can the United States beat Canada?

Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

It’s not just another hockey game.

Tuesday night, two North American rivals meet on the ice in a sport that only one of the country worships.

So why should every hockey fan in the continent be excited for USA vs Canada in the preliminary round of the World Cup of Hockey?

On February 28, 2010, Sidney Crosby became immortal. After Canada blew a 2-0 lead in the Gold Medal Game of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Crosby scored the overtime winner; “The Golden Goal.”

The United States had not lost in the Olympics until that game. That included a 5-3 win over Canada in the preliminary round. That win was supposed to be a shift in Canadian dominance to American dominance in hockey.

Instead, the Canadians came away with the gold, again.

Nearly four years later to the date, Canada shocked the United States again. This time, it came in the semi-finals of the 2014 Winter Olympics. The winner would play in the Gold Medal Game. The loser would head to the Bronze Medal Game.

In the last two meetings between the two teams, they combined to score 13 goals. This game only needed one. Jamie Benn scored early in the second and Canada held on to advance and eventually win the gold medal again.

Canada has treated the United States like a younger brother: always making them think they have a chance, but ultimately, it’s just a tease.

As if the United States needs any more motivation this year, a loss to Canada will mean elimination. After Team Europe shut them out, 3-0, on Saturday, Team USA knows it needs a far better effort against the far superior Canadian team.

Against Europe, the United States opted for speed over physicality by playing Justin Abdelkader over Dustin Byfuglien. This can’t happen again against Canada.

Though Byfuglien has moved into a forward role with Team USA as opposed to playing defense for the Winnipeg Jets, he can still make a difference.

As a forward in the 2010 playoffs for the Chicago Blackhawks, Byfuglien emerged as a go-to scorer with 11 postseason goals en route to a Stanley Cup victory. Head coach John Tortorella should not make the same mistake twice and start Byfuglien over Abdelkader, who is a solid scorer (19 last season), but consider that he scored as many goals as Byfuglien last season.

To beat Canada, it will come down to superstars producing.

Canada is loaded. They lit up the Czech Republic 6-0 on Saturday and the top line of Crosby, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron each scored a goal.

The United States has to match their output, but the problem isn’t a lack of skill to match Canada, it’s the coaching.

Team USA has the reigning Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane (46 goals + 60 assists in 2015-2016), the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs leading goal-scorer Joe Pavelski (11 goals), and six other players that scored at least 25 goals last season.

Problem is, Tortorella is doing an awful job managing his roster. His first mistake was moving Byfuglien up to forward instead of leaving his star defenseman at the proper position.

Tortorella’s other mistake was playing Brandon Dubinsky. It’s embarrassing that a player who only twice has scored 20 or more goals in 10 NHL seasons and is a regular fourth liner can be considered one of the country’s best players.

Either Byfuglien or Kyle Palmieri (30+27) should be in every night in place of Dubinsky. It doesn’t matter that neither player is a center and Dubinsky is. Tortorella is clearly comfortable with flipping players into different positions.

Team USA is not built to win the World Cup of Hockey; Canada is. That’s not the players’ fault, it’s managements’.

The United States won’t get revenge on Tuesday night. The Canadians will continue to their sibling en route to another international championship.

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