Team USA must maintain composure

Although Canada remains in a state of flux offensively, having scored just 13 times and with 10 of those goals being delivered by three players -- defensemen Drew Doughty (four) and Shea Weber (three) and forward Jeff Carter (three) -- the Americans have an enviable balance of skill and grit up front, and solid, youthful puck-moving defensemen on the back end.

In all, 12 different Americans have scored goals in this tournament, as Bylsma has taken a diametrically different view to building his lineup than his counterpart (and former head coach in Anaheim) Mike Babcock.

Babcock has juggled his lines and his lineup nightly, while Bylsma has for the most part been consistent. The U.S. coaching staff identified its 12 forwards from the get-go and with a minor tinker or two has kept them together. Dustin Brown, for instance, switched places with Parise and now plays with David Backes and Ryan Callahan to form the team's most physical unit and one that will likely see time against Crosby's line Friday.

Parise has moved up to a unit with Patrick Kane and Ryan Kesler and scored his first goal and point of the tournament Wednesday in the Americans' 5-2 quarterfinal win over the Czech Republic.

The team's 13th forward ( Blake Wheeler for three games and Derek Stepan for one) has played sparingly as Bylsma has rolled four lines.

The defense, too, has been uniform with Bylsma using the same seven defensemen for each game, although he has changed the pairings slightly and has settled on Paul Martin and Orpik together and Ryan McDonagh playing with Ryan Suter, with youngsters Cam Fowler and Kevin Shattenkirk forming the third, albeit very impressive, pair.

If Canada loses Friday night, there will be much criticism of the Canadian approach to its forward group.

If Canada wins -- after already beating the U.S. with gold medals on the line in 2002 and 2010 -- no one will remember what happened in the first four games.

"I can spend a lot of time worrying if I wanted to," Babcock said Thursday. "I think we're going to score. I think we've won every game we've played. That's going to be the goal again tomorrow. You can talk scoring chances till you're blue in the face. Who cares? The score is on the board, and so we've just got to find a way to keep doing what we're doing.

"What everyone on the outside who isn't on the team doesn't necessarily know is we're trying to build a team here, too. We're trying to make everybody important. We knew there was going to be some lineup changes. The other thing about it: When you have a whole group of people, including management, that have different opinions, sometimes things are different. Is it different than running your own team? Absolutely. It's fun."

If Canada must try to find its identity, at least offensively, the Americans can't afford to forget the one they have so clearly defined in advancing to a second straight Olympic semifinal.

For the Americans, this can't be about righting a wrong or undoing the past.

That kind of motivation often leads to individual or undisciplined play.

This game will be a hard-hitting, emotional affair. Losing sight of the building blocks that went into the Americans' four-game winning streak here will be to abandon their identity.

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