Actual hockey is about to begin! Team USA is stocked with an immense amount of talent. They have a solid balance of speed, size, and grit and some pretty good goaltending!
This team was built with the basis of competing for a gold medal. Puck pressure and speed seem to be of importance based on the make-up of the team. This is the same strategy that the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins used, but will it work at the international level?
This team will have to play on both ends of the ice in order to compete with the likes of Canada and Russia. All of the pressure is on Team USA to make up for the embarrassment of what took place 2 years ago. In the 2014 Winter Olympics, Team USA did not win any type of Medal. That remains a sore spot. There are 14 players on this roster who were also a part of the Olympic team.
Team USA expects to be an agitator. Look for the Red, White, and Blue to be an in-your-face, heavy hitting team.
Strength– The trio of Goaltenders is Team USA’s biggest asset heading into the tournament play. With Ben Bishop, Jonathan Quick, and Cory Schneider, they have arguably the best group out of any team participating . Defensive play in front of the net must step up. Everyone member of this team must play the role they are assigned. The grit of this team may prove to be a deciding factor. The selection of players such as Brandon Dubinsky, Justin Abdelkader, Dustin Byfuglien, and Jack Johnson signifies that USA will look to be heavy on the forecheck. These players will no doubt get under the skin of the opposing players and can dictate the speed of the game.
Weakness- This team lacks experience. Most of these players may have played at the international level, but many of these guys have not played in high pressure situations. This team has a combined six Stanley Cup Champions. Dustin Byfuglien has one ring, while Patrick Kane has three and Jonathan Quick has two. Zach Parise and Ryan McDonagh are coming off of injuries and there is no telling whether that will have an effect on their play.
Key Players- Team USA features arguably the best player in the world in Patrick Kane. This team will go as Kane goes. Any one of the goaltenders will be a key factor. This trio of netminders may be the best group in the competition.
This is how the roster looks for Team USA:
Goalies– Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay Lightning) Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings) Cory Schneider (New Jersey Devils)
Defensemen– Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg Jets), John Carlson (Washington Capitals), Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers), Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild), Matt Niskanen (Washington Capitals), Erik Johnson (Colorado Avalanche), Jack Johnson (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Forwards– Justin Abdelkader (Detroit Red Wings), Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks), Ryan Kesler (Anaheim Ducks), T.J. Oshie (Washington Capitals), Max Pacioretty (Montreal Canadiens), Zach Parise (Minnesota Wild), Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks), Derek Stephan (New York Rangers), Blake Wheeler (Winnipeg Jets), Brandon Dubinsky (Columbus Blue Jackets), Kyle Palmieri (New Jersey Devils) James van Riemsdyk (Toronto Maple Leafs), David Backes (Boston Bruins)
Projected lines for Team USA-
Max Pacioretty, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Kane
Zach Parise, Derek Stephan, Blake Wheeler
Justin Abdelkader- Ryan Kesler-T.J. Oshie
James van Riemsdyk-David Backes-Brandon Dubinsky
Ryan Suter-Dustin Byfuglien
Ryan McDonagh-John Carlson
Jack Johnson-Matt Niskanen
Goalies (Starter Undecided)-
Team USA will battle Team Canada on Friday September 9 for their first Pre-Tournament game. Game time is set for 7:00 PM and can be seen on ESPNU. The rest of the Pre-Tournament and Round-Robin Group play schedule for team USA can be seen below:
September 10-USA @ Canada (Pre-Tournament) ESPN 3
September 13-USA vs. Finland (Pre-Tournament) ESPN
September 17-USA @ Europe (Round-Robin Group A) ESPN 2
September 20- USA vs Canada (Round-Robin Group A) ESPN
September 22- USA @ Czech Republic (Round-Robin Group A) ESPN 2