The Men’s US Hockey team will head into its first game of the Sochi Olympics tomorrow morning, hoping to feed off the momentum of the run they made the previous Winter Olympics four years ago in Vancouver. There will not be too much time to be had to create synergy among the new lines for the Americans, since head coach Dan Bylsma plans on keeping teammates together for the tournament. The US hockey team will be taking on a formidable foe in the Slovakia team, which holds some of the best at their positions. Marian Hossa and Zdeno Chara will head the Slovakian star power, while Jaroslav Halak will hold down the fort in between the pipes. This leads to the question about what kind of depth will the US hockey team boast looking into the Sochi Olympics.
The US team will be led by some of the hardest working, most grizzled skaters on ice in the NHL. Their team is headed by captain and fellow winger, Zach Parise, which is projected to lead the third line for the US. Their hard nosed alternate captain Dustin Brown, will be on the second line. The men’s hockey team will heavily rely on its top scoring wingers in Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane, and TJ Oshie to provide the scoring punch and depth the US team will need to push past the Slovakian team; and hopefully lead the US all the way through to the medal games at the Sochi Olympics.
The defensemen and centers have been somewhat of the question mark of the team. US hockey contains two of the best left ice defenders in the league with Ryan Suter and Ryan McDonagh; but many are left wondering if Kevin Shattenkirk and John Carlson are reliable enough to hold down the right side of the ice. The goaltender position has just recently been decided and Jonathan Quick will get the nod for the US team. Quick will be backed up by former 2010 starter for the US hockey team, Ryan Miller. Both form a reliable tandem going forward through the Winter Olympics.
The US will group with some of the top talent of the Olympics in Group A, one of them being the Russians, who will be waiting in the wings for the US in Saturday’s game. Many believe this is one of the deepest US teams to set skates on the Olympic ice. Team USA is bringing back 13 members from the hockey team that won the silver in Vancouver, while also bringing in some fresh new faces to add a little speed to the roster. The depth itself on this team may provide that extra little edge to push the team over the hump in Sochi. They will also be looking to end the 30-year drought of gold that has hung over the hockey team’s minds for decades. Nobody will be soon to compare this team to the ‘Miracle on Ice’ of 1980, but if there is any team that is going to defy the odds and bring home many yearn for, it will be the team of 2014. The road for gold starts today in Sochi, with each member of the US hockey team focused on the goal at hand.
by Justin Huffman