Blog Entry

A step sideways

Posted on: February 18, 2010 7:22 pm
 

If this was supposed to be a confidence builder for Team USA, well, let’s just say it left something to be desired.

Sure the Americans managed to skate off with their second consecutive victory in these Olympics. They even managed to run up the score at the end of the game, which is never a bad thing in a tournament where goal differential means something.

But can anyone honestly say that this team has looked capable of beating Canada or any of the other powerhouses so far? Even after a 6-1 victory over a Norwegian team that is out of its element against NHL-stacked rosters?

Didn't think so. The Americans did a lot of good things getting past Norway, problem is they didn’t really set the right wheels in motion  as they look ahead to a crucial clash against Canada on Sunday. Or maybe they just got them stuck in neutral. 

“We’re got to be stronger in the first two periods,” opined forward David Backes, a somewhat surprising choice for the roster who has been one of the most effective American players in the first two games.

“We were sloppy in the neutral zone and gave them too chances and we can’t do that against Canada because they’ve got too much talent top the bottom. Even tonight, I don’t think 6-1 wasn’t indicative of what went on because they may have tired out at the end.”

The Norwegians also ran out of gas when Canada routed them 8-0 in the tournament opener, but by the time they did, the outcome had long been decided. Against Team USA, the late third period collapse opened the door for the final three American goals, but what that essentially did was put away a game that was a lot closer than it should have been. That's not a good sign.

Truth is the Americans let Norway hang around far too long by displaying many of the same decision-making flaws that were apparent against Switzerland in the opener. Team USA is built with speed and it is trying to take advantage of that by having its defensemen join in on the rush to create added offensive pressure. That's not necessarily a bad thing, except that the Americans were again too reckless and frequently got caught giving up  odd man rushes that would have done then in against an opponent with finishing power.

“I think we want our D involved, but for sure we can’t turn the puck over as much as we did,” said Zach Parise.

Still Team USA can take several positives out of the win. Goaltender Ryan Miller, who struggled in the run-up to the tournament, only had to face 11 shots, but he was sharp when necessary in his last tune-up before facing the Canadians. The top line of Parise, Paul Stastny and Patrick Kane picked up a goal and looked far more comfortable than in the opener, and the second unit of Joe Pavelski, Phil Kessel and Ryan Malone was a threat every time it was on the ice.

And Team USA's defense was physical and moved the puck well, if a little too dangerously at times.

“Obviously you have a lot more respect for Canadian forwards than some of these guys we’ve played so far,” veteran defenseman Brian Rafalski. “We’ll have to be a little more conscious more aware of what’s going on defensively.”

Actually, a lot more.

Category: NHL
Comments

Since: Jun 28, 2007
Posted on: February 21, 2010 10:13 pm
 

A step sideways

Just want to let all know I am ecstatic that the USA won tonight.  Also to let the people that bashed me that I posted this before I found out the result of the Canada overtime win.  But has happy as I am about the USA win tonight, Canada's talent is far superior to the USA. But I also agree that any team that has talent at the goaltender position can win on any given night.  Which I did say in my post.  The USA played a great game tonight.  Ryan Miller stood on his head!!  Just like I said needed to happen in the original post.  I hope the USA wins the gold!  Good luck Team USA!



Since: Nov 22, 2006
Posted on: February 19, 2010 8:47 pm
 

A step sideways

The U.S. in the World Junior Championships proved that the most talented team doesn't always win. Sure Canada's D team would probably be more talented than the U.S., but I like the team Brian Burke put together. He has a very nice mix of players. Scorers, good defensive forwards, energy guys that will fight and scratch for every loose puck, and very good goaltending. Canada has all the scoring in the world, but I don't think they have as good a mix as the U.S. and if Ron Wilson puts together a defensive game-plan, the U.S. can win. Canada's game against the Swiss proved that they are beatable. I personally think Canada has too many superstars, which can still win you a title, but it doesn't always work that way, just ask the Yankees, or the 2004 U.S. Olympic basketball team.



Since: Apr 16, 2007
Posted on: February 19, 2010 7:21 pm
 

A step sideways

Team USA has a chance..we have nothing to lose, and nobody expects us to win, so who knows, we might just pull off the upset vs Team Canada.




Since: Apr 24, 2008
Posted on: February 19, 2010 6:59 pm
 

A step sideways

moneybags, thank you for what that.  The US team isn't expected to do much, and now (if i'm not mistaken) they're ahead of Canada in the standings no? The average age on our team is around 26, give the guys a break.  They played two great games, for a team that is the youngest in this tournament.  Not only that, Canada is on their heels now after having to steal a game from the swiss, and the US is coming off a 6-1 victory. I think the US vs. Canada game is going to be a GREAT one.  Ryan miller hasn't really been tested yet, but we'll see when it's miller time baby. USA!! USA!!! USA!!!



Since: Feb 19, 2010
Posted on: February 19, 2010 6:49 pm
 

A step sideways

Ok, what is all of this junk about Canada being unbeatable? I'm a Minnesotan from the town of the high school single-season scoring record holder living in Canada for a year and even my friends up here admit that they're definitely beatable. Russia just got beat by Slovakia even with Ovie shooting three times in the shootout, Canada barely beat the Swiss and Iginla is barely even 50% if he plays. They're too old like the Americans in 2006 in Turin when we got something like 9th place. And we just beat Norway by 5, even if the score was misleading. Maybe Canada does win Sunday but there's no question that USA has a good shot at least.



Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: February 19, 2010 5:03 pm
 

A step sideways

Ok nobody including Wes must have listened to post game comments by Team USA players. Team USA can and I believe will beat team Canada and here is why. Ryan Miller is rested, he has faced under 30 shots in this tournament so far and that is a GOOD thing in my opinion, others will disagree and say he has not been tested, for those I say this guy is a professional athlete and has been facing shots since he was 7 years old, he is not going to forget how to play goal by having few shots. Team USA players stated in after game interviews that they were given the GREEN light by Ron Wilson to play a total offensive style game and pinch whenever possible in the first two games. The players also stated that they will not be able to play the same style game against Team Canada or they will be in trouble against them. This has me thinking team USA has a definite game plan for the Elite teams where they switch to a more defensive style and limit the chances the defense takes pinching and joining the rush. Team USA also has a lot of good two way shut down type players who should be able to slow the Canadian attack. To be honest you cant judge either team by the competition they have faced so far in the tourney. Jaroslav Halak stole the game for Slovakia yesterday to beat the Mighty Russians. I think USA has a good chance to beat Canada with a defensive minded game plan and if Patrick Kane, Zach Parisi and Paul Stasny get going. I believe the other lines should be able to shut down the Canada attack. Maybe its just wishful thinking but I really think USA has been getting some bad press for the 2 regulation WINS in this tourney so far, remember team USA has 6 points and Canada has 5 as of right now. If the USA can get a win Sunday they will draw a bye. If Canada goes into the next round with a loss and a tie they may find themselves playing Russia, Slovakia, or the Czech Republic if they lose. I would not hang the Gold on Team Canada's neck just yet.




Since: Dec 16, 2007
Posted on: February 19, 2010 4:29 pm
 

A step sideways

On paper the Canadians and Russians are definitely the class of the Olympics. However, the games are played on the ice not paper. So far nobody has looked that overpowering. Russia lost to the Slovakians in a shootout and Canada needed one to get by the pesky Swiss. With so much high end NHL goaltending in the tournament any one team is only a hot goaltender away from making a run for the gold. Should the Canadians beat the American team on Sunday? Absolutely, however Ryan Miller gives the Americans a chance against any team. I would love to see a Canada vs Russian final. But the way things have started out so far anything is possible.



Since: Dec 16, 2009
Posted on: February 19, 2010 4:12 pm
 

A step sideways

No one has stood out so far. At least, not to my knowledge. I haven't seen the Russians or Americans play, yet. Every team out there looks to be what one would expect them to be. A collage of immense talent that has been together less than a week. Teams have had little, to no time, to gel and work as a unit. Which, is why the new overtime system implemented this Olympics made little sense to me. Taking the tie out of the qualifying rounds placed greater, heavier burdens on teams still getting acquainted.



Since: Sep 11, 2007
Posted on: February 19, 2010 3:24 pm
 

A step sideways

Would someone please buy this writer a proofreader?

How many typos are allowed in one article?

“We were sloppy in the neutral zone and gave them too chances and we can’t do that against Canada because they’ve got too much talent top the bottom. Even tonight, I don’t think 6-1 wasn’t indicative of what went on because they may have tired out at the end.”

Gave them too chances?

Too much talent top the bottom?

Don't think 6-1 wasn't indicative?

Brutal.

There were several other errors as well...including the final quote.

CBS Sports should be "a little more conscious more aware" of their writing standards.

Actually, a lot more.



Since: Feb 12, 2008
Posted on: February 19, 2010 2:44 pm
 

A step sideways

Yah the Canadian team looked real dominant last night against the Swiss.   Just because they have the most talent on paper doesn't mean they are a lock.  Besides they should win it all I mean really what has Canada ever done besides being good at ice hockey. Face it Canada suks



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