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Who Was Better? Team Canada or Team Soviet Union: The Final Stats (1972-1987)
   Series Meetings Between Each Team and Who Won

1972 Summit Series- Canada (4 wins, 3 losses, 1 tie)
           1974 Summit Series- Soviet Union (4 wins, 1 loss, 3 ties)
           1976 Canada Cup- Canada (1 win)
           1979 Challenge Cup- Soviet Union (2 wins, 1 loss)
           1981 Canada Cup- Soviet Union (1 win, 1 loss)
           1984 Canada Cup- Canada (1 win, 1 loss)
           1987 Rendez-Vous- (tied 1 game each)
           1987 Canada Cup- Canada (2 wins, 1 loss, 1 tie)

Final Stats

Total Series Won- Canada 4- Soviet Union 3  (1 tie)
Total Games Won- Soviet Union 13- Canada 12  (5 ties)
Total Goals Scored- Soviet Union 124- Canada 109
Total Shots on Goal- Canada 916- Soviet Union 818.

Well, there it is! The Soviets game for game record was slightly better; however, the Canadians won more trophies. On the surface it looks as though we can call things "a draw" between the two nations. Read below for my final wrap-up.

* Many Soviet League teams played various NHL teams in matches that started in 1975 and ended in 1991. The USSR won 57 of these games and the NHL won 41; while 10 games finished in a tie. The Central Red Army was always the Soviet's best club and won a majority of these matches for them against the NHL. However, if you take them out of the picture and only include games played by the other Soviet teams (Dynamo, Wings, Spartak, Riga, Khimik, SKA and Sokol) versus the NHL, you will find things a lot closer. The NHL had 33 wins, USSR had 31 wins, and there were 8 ties. To see the complete final results from all these games go to this link.

* Canada finished first in the Round Robins from Canada Cup 1976, 1981, and 1987; whereas, the Soviets finished first in only one Round Robin- that being in the 1984 Canada Cup.

* In all Canada Cup Round Robins, from 1976-1987, Canada scored a total of 96 goals against all competition. The Soviets scored 87.

* Canada always had home ice advantage except for the games played in Russia in 1972 and 1974.

* The 1991 Canada Cup is not included because the Soviets could only field a second rate team that year, and Canada's new rival arose from below the border in the USA. In the Round Robin game, however, Canada and the USSR (for a while known as the Unified Team) tied 3-3.

* The Soviets usually took less shots on goal than Canada. Canadians were more apt to shoot at any given chance; whereas, the Soviets would, more often than not, wait for the best opportunity for a chance on goal. Also, another contrast in styles was that the Soviets rarely dumped the puck into the zone, instead preferring to carry the puck across the blueline and never lose possession- not something that Don Cherry was ever too keen on.

* During this 15 year period, there were a few Canadians who actually felt the Soviets were superior- but they were a minority for sure; whereas, all Russian hockey fans thought their teams were the best. This sentiment stemmed from the fact that Canadian style hockey used intimidation tactics to get an edge, which didn't always sit well with some. In these situations the Soviets usually kept a level head and would not fight back, choosing instead to take the abuse.

* In all series many great goals were scored as a result of awesome individual effort on deeking rushes, such as: 1972- Kharlamov, P. Mahovlich, Perreault, Henderson; 1974- 2 by Kharlamov; 1979- Perreault's set-up of Bossy; 1981- Krutov; 1984- Makarov; 1987- 2 by Kamensky. USSR 7 to Canada 4.

* The Soviets and Europeans played on a larger rink surface than Canadians were used to, and, of course, the Soviets weren't as used to the smaller American-sized rinks. When Canada would send over teams yearly for the World Championships in the 1980s and early 1990s the Soviets would usually always end up easily handling the Canadians. It is often stated that these matches should not count as the most fair matches because Canada would send over only its best players who had been knocked out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As well, the team had little time to prepare and gel. Although this may be true, it should be noted that in the 1980's and early 1990's Canada sent over some very formidable teams, with many Team Canada alumni who were a part of Canada Cup teams. Canada sent superstars like: Gretzky, Lafleur, Sittler, Gainey, Robinson, Clarke, Hawerchuck, Goulet, Maruk, Gartner, Propp, Ciccarelli, Stevens, Tanti and Lemieux. With a team one year (1990) whose players included the likes of: Mark Messier, Steve Yzerman, Rick Tocchet, Kirk Muller, Paul Coffey, Glenn Anderson, Brent Sutter, Theo Fleury, and Al McInnis, it's surprising that Canada was almost never able to win when it counted most- against the Russians. Check the stats below.

* In the 1991 Canada Cup, Canada had a very good team, but should have had as good a team as they did in the 1976 Canada Cup. The 1991 team could have had the likes of: Lemieux, Neely, Oates, Gilmour, Anderson, Recchi, Niewendyk, Gartner and Brett Hull (who played for the USA). Yzerman made the team but wasn't dressed by Mike Keenan.

* Here are some World Championship and pre-Canada Cup exhibition game scores. These games do have some meaning since many of the players wanted to put in a good showing in these matches to guarantee themselves a spot on the roster for the Canada Cup; and also, as mentioned earlier, Team Canada sent some very formidable teams overseas to play in the World Championships. (Canada did not send a team between 1970-1976).

1977 WC (World Championships)     USSR 11- Canada 1
                                                       USSR  8- Canada 1
1978 WC                                         USSR  4- Canada 2
                                                       USSR 5-  Canada 1
1979 WC                                         USSR 5- Canada 2
                                                       USSR 9- Canada 2
1981 WC                                         USSR 8- Canada 2
                                                       USSR 4- Canada 4
1981 Exhibition (pre-Canada Cup)     USSR 2- Canada 3
1982 WC                                         USSR 4- Canada 3
                                                       USSR 6- Canada 4
1983 WC                                         USSR 8- Canada 2
                                                       USSR 8- Canada 2
1984 Exhibition (pre-Canada Cup)     USSR 5- Canada 4
1985 WC                                         USSR 9- Canada 1
                                                       USSR 1- Canada 3
1986 WC                                         USSR 4- Canada 0
                                                       USSR 7- Canada 4
1987 WC                                         USSR 3- Canada 2
                                                       USSR 0- Canada 0
1987 Exhibition (pre-Canada Cup)     USSR 9- Canada 4
                                                       USSR 2- Canada 5
1989 WC                                         USSR 4- Canada 3
                                                       USSR 5- Canada 3
1990 WC                                         USSR  3- Canada 3
                                                       USSR  7- Canada 1
1991 WC                                         USSR  5- Canada 3
                                                       USSR  3- Canada 3
1991 Exhibition (pre-Canada Cup)      USSR 2- Canada 4
                                                        USSR 4- Canada 3

Final Stats: USSR (wins 22, losses 4, ties 4)                                                                                         Goals for:   USSR 155- Canada 75

Well, as it stands, when Team Canada played the USSR in the best-on-best format (from the red section above), the final stats prove that we can call the matches "a draw" if we are to consider "who was best?" However, in my opinion, to break this dead-lock we can use the previous World Championships/ Exhibition games as the determining factor for "who was best?" Yes fellow Canadians, when all is said-and-done, we have to give the Soviets the nod.

* The World Junior Championships began in 1974. Between 1974 and 1991 the USSR won 11 of these and Canada won 5. However, Canada usually sent the Memorial Cup winning team and not a national side prior to 1982 (except for 1978 when Gretzky played).

* One last statistic: In all international meetings between the Soviet Union and Canada, from 1954-1991, there were a total of 139 games played. The USSR won 95 games to Canada's 32 games, and 12 games ended in a tie.

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