Top Line: Setting up USA vs. Canada; women's gold reactions; more links

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Friday February 21st, 2014

james van Riemsdyk, Phil Kessel, Joe Pavelski of Team USA in Sochi Canada's challenge: Stopping James van Riemsdyk (left), Phil Kessel (center) and Joe Pavelski (8). (Icon SMI)

By Allan Muir

An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:

• Mike Brophy offers five points to ponder ahead of today's Olympic semifinal between Team USA and Team Canada. We'll be live blogging it. The winner gets to take on Sweden -- which edged Finland 2-1 earlier on Friday morning -- in the gold medal game on Sunday.

• Thanks to Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, this bit never gets old.

• Just like in 1980, this game means more to Team USA than any gold-medal game.

• Ken Dryden, the other man behind the mic for the Miracle on Ice, says that the American program no longer needs a miracle to stand as the world's hockey superpower.

• With a core group that goes back to the 2003 World Juniors, this edition of Team USA could go down as the greatest ever.

• Dejan Kovacevic examines the chemistry that defines Team USA's success to this point, and credits the captain for bringing the glue.

Zach Parise is looking forward to writing a happier chapter than the 2010 gold-medal game in American hockey history.

• His forwards aren't scoring, but Team Canada coach Mike Babcock has always said this tournament will come down to defense. And so far, Canada's defense is the superior beast.

• Max Rust offers an interactive look at where the players in today's game come from.

• Beyond replacing the injured John Tavares with Matt Duchene, Team Canada will stick with the same lines and defensive pairs that it used against Latvia.

• Not surprisingly, Islanders GM Garth Snow got a little heated about the loss of Tavares for the rest of the season. Also not surprising: the growing belief that Tavares' injury will be used to make the case against Olympic participation in the future.

• There will be a change for the U.S. as Paul Martin is out for today's game. He reportedly was seen wearing a cast yesterday.

• Canada needs the Sidney Crosby of men's hockey to come up as big as the Sidney Crosby of women's hockey.

• Roy MacGregor says that yesterday's women's gold-medal final may have been the strangest and most exciting ever played.

Deadspin takes great amusement at the reaction of Canadians to the win.

• The Canadians were destined to win the gold-medal game the second they channeled the Beatles.

• This is simultaneously the best reaction to Canada's gold-medal victory and the best reaction to a reaction. I will listen to this every day for the rest of my life.

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