Hello hockey fans! In less than 24 hours, the United States men’s Olympic hockey team will take the ice and attempt to do better than the silver medal from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Previewing a whole team of players from all over the country that play for a variety of NHL teams is extremely hard, so I’m going to split it up into sections. In this section I will preview Team USA’s group of netminders, and the defensemen in front of them.
Team USA is returning two of the previous three goaltenders from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics; Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings and Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres. The third goaltender for Team USA is Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings, who replaced Tim Thomas of Boston Bruins at the time, but currently the Florida Panthers. Howard, who has suffered numerous injuries this season, has posted a 2.65 GAA and a .914 save percentage. Howard has struggled immensely in Detroit this season, with injuries and with making saves overall. He will probably end up being Team USA’s third goalie in Sochi this year. Jonathan Quick, the only one of the three goaltenders who has won the Stanley Cup, has had his own share of issues in Los Angeles this season but has still managed a 2.18 GAA and a .911 save percentage. Ryan Miller, who led team USA to a silver medal in the 2010 Olympics, is my number one choice of starting goalie will probably get the call to lead the team again this time around. Miller is playing on THE WORST team in the National Hockey League and has still been able to post a 2.74 GAA and a .923 save percentage. That being said, it was announced Wednesday morning by Team USA coach Dan Bylsma that Jonathan Quick will get the start in goal on Thursday against Slovakia. Coach Bylsma did not mention who would start on Saturday against the Russians, so stay tuned for that.
Speaking of defense, only three defensemen from the 2010 team have returned: Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild, Brooks Orpik of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Paul Martin(who was withdrawn due to injury) also of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The new guys are: John Carlson of the Washington Capitals, Justin Faulk of the Carolina Hurricanes, Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks, Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers, and Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues.
According to powerofthepuckblog.com, the defensive pairings that came out of the early Team USA practice were as follows:
The offense (which will come in a later preview), is lined up with stars and should do fine holding it’s own against the better teams of the tournament. In order for team USA to prevail and improve upon the silver medal they earned in the last Olympics, their defense and goaltending need to step up and push the team to a gold medal.