Through the Wounded Warrior program, each player has been paired with an American soldier who was wounded in action in Iraq or Afghanistan. Some of the soldiers addressed the team before these Games and are expected to fly in to attend the gold-medal game.
On the ice, the Americans are 5-0 in this tournament, with a stunning upset of this Canadian team and a shocking blowout of Finland in Friday's semifinal. Team Right Stuff has scored first in every game and has never trailed.
The players are too young to remember 1980 and Lake Placid. For them, the Miracle on Ice is a movie with Kurt Russell. The Cold War? It had something to do with ice, right?
This Canadian team is not the Red Army. But its red-clad supporters want - no, expect; make that demand - a gold medal from the home team, playing its national game. Losing to the United States would be about as bad an outcome as anyone in this country could imagine.
"The fans are so passionate about Canada and about the Olympics in general," American forward David Backes said. "But when you get to hockey, there's a-whole-nother level above passionate. They almost live and die by it."
In the first week of these Olympics, the United States rudely nudged its northerly neighbor aside. Canada's Own the Podium campaign became something of an embarrassment as Team USA ran up the score in the medal count.
But things turned in the second week of competition. Canada came on strong, very strong. The host nation passed the United States to lead the world in gold medals, including a big win in the women's hockey tournament. And the most emotional moment of the Olympics, the bronze-medal performance of figure skater Joannie Rochette just days after the sudden death of her mother, transcended sports entirely.
That tear-stained, beer-stained week has created a huge bubble of positivity and anticipation here in Vancouver as the last and, for Canada, most important gold-medal competition of the Olympics draws closer.
The United States has a chance to pop that bubble.
"All the pressure is on Canada," Burke said. "Canadians view this as their game, and they view this game as planting a flag on a peak."
In an amusing bit of gamesmanship, Burke and Team Canada coach Mike Babcock tried to stake out the role of underdog for their teams. Babcock cited the Americans' win last week, while Burke defied "anyone here to show me a newspaper article of two weeks ago that said the U.S. would be playing in the gold-medal game."
What to make of all this underdog talk?
"I guess it will be a dogfight then," Backes cracked. "We're a group of 22 guys who were expected to come here and make an OK showing and then go home early. We're happy to rebook all of our flights out. We're a group of young guys who could easily be intimidated by all of the skill and talent, the all-stars and Hall of Famers they have on their team."
Any thoughts of intimidation, and Canadian invincibility, were Zamboni'd away last Sunday.
"We know we can do it," Ryan said. "It's been done. That means a lot to us."
The Americans have no pressure on them today. They already have exceeded expectations. They can play with the same loose, aggressive style that allowed them to beat Canada, 5-3, a week ago.
"We'd love to have a gold," Backes said, "but in the back of your mind, what pressure can we be under? If there's a little snafu, we still get a silver medal around our necks."
It is the perfect way for Team Right Stuff to approach this game, because, for them, it is a game. For Team Canada, it looms more as a battle for the heart and soul of these Olympics. The arena full of red-clad fans represents the weight of a nation's expectations.
"Hockey is Canada's game," Ryan said, and his chipped-tooth smile suggested that just might change today.
Contact columnist Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844 or email@example.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/philsheridan.