Image credit: Chris Thomas @kingsrock3211
It may not be the gold-medal game but it certainly feels like one as Canada and the United States renew hostilities on Friday with a berth in the gold-medal game on the line.
To prove just how far both of these countries have come since the Vancouver Games, the two starting goaltenders from 2010's championship game - Roberto Luongo and Ryan Miller - will be riding the bench. Instead, the squads will go with Carey Price and Jonathan Quick respectively.
They went from a mysrery opponent in the quarters to a team they know everything about in the semis, minus one detail: How to solve Jonathan Quick. But if Team Canada was ever looking for a time to dramatically boost their offense, it will be Friday morning against a USA squad firing on all cylinders this tournament.
After the Canadian womens' dramatic comeback against the US in the gold medal game, the men's matchup has been built up with a lot more excitement. The Canadians want to add to their momentum on the ice while the Americans want to avenge their country's OT loss.
While the Canadians won bragging rights in 2010, their 2014 meeting with the Americans will be considerably more difficult.
While they have been very good defensively, the Canadians haven't not been able to score. Up front, Los Angeles's Jeff Carter is the only Canadian forward with more than one goal in these Games. The bulk of Canada's offense has come from their blueline - most notably Nashville's Shea Weber and Carter's Kings' teammate Drew Doughty. While all three will be expected to be great against the US on Friday, the expectation is multiplied for the rest of the team which includes the likes of Rick Nash, Corey Perry and Sidney Crosby - none of whom have a goal yet in these Olympics.
The Americans meanwhile are singing a different tune entering Friday's tilt. In this tournament, Team USA has not only been an offensive juggernaut but it's been a produce-by-committee. While Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk and TJ Oshie have all chipped in in significant ways, guys like (Kings' captain) Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan and Kevin Shattenkirk have all helped Team USA be successful. It shouldn't take a genius to point that Team Canada has their work cut out for them.
When the puck drops on this contest, both teams will know who their potential opponent will be in Sunday's gold medal game as Finland and Sweden will play their semi-final matchup a few hours earlier. While whoever loses this game can still win bronze, both squads want the same colour - and it's not bronze or silver.
The excitement and the tension has been built. These two nations and their fans have been waiting four years for this matchup. This is an event that needs no buildup and no superfluous adjectives. It is Canada versus the United States and it all happens at the Bolshoy Ice Dome at 9am PST (12pm EST).
Enjoy the game!