One of the interesting aspects about putting together a national team full of players from teams all across the NHL is that sometimes they come from heated rivalries in their normal circumstances. Asking players who are normally trained to dislike one another to all of a sudden come together and be teammates is an interesting dichotomy.
When I spoke to players about that very issue in the summer at the Team USA Olympic Orientation Camp, almost everybody agreed that it's different, but they are able to separate the two worlds. They can turn that switch on and off as it were. What happens on the ice, stays on the ice.
On Monday night in LA, that proverbial switch was turned on when the Canucks and Kings met. The two teams have had a growing rivalry for a few seasons now and so naturally things got testy. At the fore of the physicality was a fight between soon-to-be teammates for Team USA, Kings captain Dustin Brown and Canucks center Ryan Kesler. It wasn't the most vicious fight you'll see but it was a fight nonetheless, perhaps retribution for Brown running into Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo a few games back.
Over on the other side of the continent, Team USA coach Dan Bylsma wasn't watching the game, having just come back from the West Coast, but he certainly heard about two of his top American players scrapping. He didn't sound too worried about the fight at all per Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"I haven't seen it. I was still recovering from the [Penguins' Western Canada] road trip so I didn't turn on that game. I did however this morning hear all about that game. We had a scout at the game who gave Dustin Brown a five in the game which is the highest rating you can get in the game. He talked about the battle. His comment was, 'If this is what Team USA will do to each other, then wait until they get Canada on the other side.' Yeah, I heard about it. I haven't seen it quite yet. I did hear and get the report that Dustin and all the Olympians were really good in that game."
They can't fight in the Olympics but you get the point about what they will do when they see the red of Canada opposite them. These guys won't be afraid to hit their usual teammates hard into the boards when wearing the colors of USA.
Bylsma noted that Brown -- who also scored the only goal in the game -- got a perfect rating by the scout and Kesler looked good too. Somebody else who looked good? Jonathan Quick. He had 28 saves in the game on the way to the shutout. In other words, it was an OK night for USA Hockey in LA.