Capitals looking forward to Canada-United States semifinal matchup

February 20, 2014

The United States celebrates after defeating the Czech Republic 5-2 in the quarterfinals Wednesday. They face Canada in the semifinals on Friday. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Wednesday afternoon, as the Washington Capitals reconvened for their first practice in 10 days, a few of the players were distracted by what was happening half a world away in Sochi.

Karl Alzner and Troy Brouwer paused along the boards during drills to try to catch a glimpse of Canada’s men’s hockey quarterfinal against Latvia on the television in the media work room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. When Canada pulled ahead for a 2-1 lead, reporters offered score updates with hand signals that resulted in subdued fist pumps. They weren’t the only ones interested in the contest, either, as fellow Canadian Mike Green watched snippets of the streaming broadcast on a cameraman’s phone as players rotated through rushes.

They’re looking forward to Friday’s semifinal contest between Canada and the United States — a rematch of the 2010 gold medal game in Vancouver — with the winner advancing to play for the gold medal. But even the Caps’ Canadians know that their home country may have its work cut out for it with the Americans playing so well throughout the tournament.

“Canada’s just doing enough to get by right now,” Brouwer said. “The States have looked strong in every single one of their games, they’re outscoring opponents, they’re outhitting them. They’re a fast team, they look real good right now. Hopefully it will be a good game but the U.S. is playing really good hockey.”

This contest also offers conflicting emotions for players like Alzner, who despite being Canadian plans on rooting for the United States a bit more because his close friend John Carlson is playing for the red, white and blue.

“It depends on the teammate, I guess, if you’re really close with the guy like I am with Carly then it’s hard for me to cheer for Canada over the U.S. too much,” Alzner said. “If it was a guy I don’t spend as much time as I do with him then maybe I cheer for my home country a little bit more.”

Regardless whom they’re cheering for, the Capitals will likely not have to peek through panes of glass to watch the semifinal contest. Coach Adam Oates, a Toronto native who is hoping for a strong U.S. performance for Carlson, said he will likely pick a practice time Friday that doesn’t conflict with the game.

More Olympics news

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Wise: For the hosts, it’s over and out in men’s hockey

Hockey: United States and Canada win and will meet in semifinals

Alex Ovechkin, Russia eliminated from Sochi Olympics by Finland

Analyzing why Russia went out with a whimper

Some Ukrainian athletes leave Sochi because of deadly protests at home

Predicting a surprise gold-medal winner in women’s figure skating

If you love curling, shout it from the rooftops!

Photos from Day 13 | Daily TV schedule | U.S. medal winners

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Liz Clarke · February 20, 2014