Men's Olympic Hockey Preview - United States

January 7, 2010

Now that my bitterness from the World Junior Gold Medal Game has faded, its time to finally wrap up my look through each of the Men's Olympic Hockey teams.

United States

Olympic Appearances: 1920-Present
Best Finish: 1st (1960, 1980)
Total Medals Won:10
Pool: Norway, Switzerland, Canada

Overall, the USA has a pretty impressive Olympic Hockey record...having amassed 10 medals over the course of their 'Olympic Career'. Of course, the two big ones are the twin gold medals won on home soil... 1960 in Squaw Valley and the 'Miracle on Ice' of 1980 in Lake Placid.

Most people would consier the USA a bit of an underdog for a medal, probably a step behind Canada, Russia and Sweden. I can't say I argue with that...but if you're looking for a dark horse team...look no further. Heck, Team USA GM Brian Burke is saying as much to anyone who will listen.

Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres)
Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings)
Tim Thomas (Boston Bruins)

Erik Johnson (St Louis Blues)
Jack Johnson (Los Angeles Kings)
Mike Komisarek (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Paul Martin (New Jersey Devils)
Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh Penguins)
Brian Rafalski (Detroit Red Wings)
Ryan Suter (Nashville Predators)

David Backes (St. Louis Blues)
Dustin Brown (Los Angeles Kings)
Ryan Callahan (New York Rangers)
Chris Drury (New York Rangers)
Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)
Ryan Kesler (Vancouver Canucks)
Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Jamie Langenbrunner (New Jersey Devils)
Ryan Malone (Tampa Bay Lightning)
Zack Parise (New Jersey Devils)
Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks)
Bobby Ryan (Anaheim Ducks)
Paul Stastny (Colorado Avalanche)

I think that if the USA is able to step up and grab a medal, it will be on account of four key advantages that they have:

North American Ice - This tournament will be played on the smaller NHL size rink. It should be a big advantage for both Canada and the States, who are much more used to playing the up-and-down, bang-and-crash style that the smaller confines requires. You won't see as much of the puck-possession style that the europeans normally roll out.

Team Speed - We saw it like crazy at the WJC, where the States was just downright faster than the Canadian defence. I expect speedsters like Kessel and Parise to breeze past the opposition's defence on more than a few occations.

Goaltending - A hot goaltender can win you this tournament...and no goaltender in the world is playing better than Ryan Miller right now.

Depth - Like the Canadians, Team USA is made up exclusivley of NHL players...the only two rosters to be so comprised. This gives them a depth that some other teams, especially the Czechs and Slovaks, just won't be able to match.

Will these factors come into play enough for the US to grab a medal? Canada, Russia and the Swedes all have more talent, but as we've seen in this tournament before, the best team on paper can end up well out of the medals.

On a personal note, I'll be seeing all three of Team USA's preliminary round games...SUI on Day 5, NOR on Day 7...and the big one...CAN-USA on Day 10. Woohoo!

Linkback: Other Rosters


Anonymous,  January 7, 2010 at 8:28 PM  

No argument here, Scott. Although if there is a dark horse, I would pick Finland simply because of their goal tending. But I guess we'll find out soon enough!!

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This blog is the online chronicle of our adventures leading up to, and including, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. We hope to give you a little insight into what went into planning our trip and a first hand look at the Games from the ground in Vancouver.

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