Trends to know before betting on the Olympic women's hockey gold medal game between USA and Canada

Another chapter will be added to the storied rivalry between the United States and Canadian women’s hockey teams when they face each other in the gold medal game of the Beijing Olympics on Wednesday night.

It will be the fourth straight Olympics these teams have played one another for gold, with Canada winning two but USA claiming the latest at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.

Both teams have been dominant to this point in the tournament, with the only loss between the two coming when they played each other in the round robin portion. Canada won 4-2 but it was easily their closest game, having been tied as late as midway through the second period.

Otherwise, the Canadians have been their usual dominant selves and enter the gold medal game as 1.5-point favorites on Tipico Sportsbook. The odds on their moneyline are -210. Odds against the spread give USA a better chance at covering, however, at -180 versus +140 on Canada. The game total is set at 5.5 points.

It would be foolish to underestimate either side, as anything can happen once the skates are laced. But there are a few trends that can help inform bettors before they lock in wagers.

For starters, both teams have been superb at keeping goals out of the net, each allowing an average of 1.33 goals per game. The U.S. has two shutouts — both against teams Canada allowed goals to — while Canada has one shutout. USA goalkeeper Alex Cavallini, who didn’t play in the first meeting against Canada, has the second-highest save percentage of the entire tournament.

Where the teams separate is on the offensive end where Canada has averaged nine goals a game with double-digit goals in four of six games. One-through-six of the Olympic points leaderboard are all Canadians, as are the top two spots of the goals leaderboard; Brianne Jenner (who scored twice against the U.S.) has nine goals, and Sarah Fillier has eight.

Canada’s average margin of victory is 7.67 and that increases to 8.25 against common opponents with the Americans. The teams’ history against each other — including Canada’s slight win earlier this month — is the only evidence of why the spread is so close. The U.S. defense can keep things tight. It’s just a matter of whether the team can score enough against Canada’s defense.

The U.S. has averaged 4.67 points in Beijing with a 3.33 average margin of victory. Their Olympics shot percentage ranks fifth and power play percentage fourth, including a rough 1-for-6 against Canada’s second-ranked penalty kill. Canada ranks first in shot and power play percentage.

Unless USA can better capitalize on power play opportunities — Canada leads the tournament in penalty minutes — the numbers suggest this game plays out similarly to the first. That puts tremendous value on the spread. But as we’ve seen in years past, these teams play close games, with each of the last two gold-medal games being decided by a goal.

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