Of all the teams, it is this U.S. squad that has imposed its will on opponents in the most impressive fashion, managing to create chances against more static, defense-oriented teams through aggressive and selfless play.
"I think this is a group of guys who embody that," Bylsma said. "That's their type of player. Seen from our team, Ryan McDonagh put himself in front of [Alex] Ovechkin's slapper on the penalty kill. ... We've seen Ryan Callahan, when the score was 7-1, put his body in front of shots and block shots. We saw the last game Brooks Orpik do it. Our group, that's the type of team we are, those are the type of players we have. We have skill; we have speed. We've seen that with [Phil] Kessel and Patrick Kane. The last game Kessel and Kane were our hardest-working guys working back, getting back for our D and playing that way. That's the type of team we are, we're blue-collar mentality and that's the way we have to play."
It's hard to imagine this game, knowing these two teams, as being anything but as emotional as the two games they played during the Vancouver Olympics.
We're likewise pretty sure that once the puck drops, the last thing on either team's mind will be what happened four years ago, even if it remains a powerful backdrop to what has the potential to be the marquee game of this Olympic tournament.
"You're down two, you get two back, you score with a minute left and you think it was meant to be that you're going to win a gold medal," Backes recalled.
"A couple chances both ways, and the one that went in, and all of a sudden that destiny you felt 20 minutes ago is not meant to be. And months later, you put it in perspective, and you say, 'Hey, I got a silver medal,' and we were part of an amazing team that played in one of the best hockey games ever played. And there's something to be said for that. But if you were on the other end of that, I think it's a lot more sweet."