January 02, 2010

Team USA 2010: The youth movement is on! Can this untested group compete with international heavyweights like Canada and Sweden?

posted by tahoemoj to hockey at 12:21 PM - 8 comments

That link goes to a year old story. This link (complete with possible annoying ESPN video auto-startishness) gives the team.

But to answer your question, probably not. If Miller plays at the very top of his game, then they have a chance. But the defence is not that impressive (would any of those 8 d-men have made the Canadian team?) and the depth of the forwards is such that the top players are going to be playing a lot of defence themselves -- I mean, if Canada's third line is Marleau-Thornton-Heatley then who will the States put out against that? I'm surprised the US didn't pick Modano for leadership and the fourth line -- h is still a decent player and they have a lot of youngsters up front. A lot of people in the east will be surprised how effective Ryan Kesler is.

Sweden is a bit deeper on defence but I wouldn't say they are better across the board - only 3/4 of their team are from the NHL. A top line of the twins plus Foppa would put Zetterberg and Backstrom on their second line which is at least as good as the top two US lines. If Kronwall is healthy by then it will make a big difference. Ohlund is rock solid but not the fastest defenceman in the league and Lidstrom is Lidstrom but is something like 38.

The stacked Russian offence will also have a chance to make mincemeat out of the American defence -- Russia will either win or lose every game 7-5.

So, I'd be really surprised to see them finish higher than fourth but if their goaltending is freakish they have a chance at a medal.

posted by rumple at 01:05 PM on January 02, 2010

Thanks for the fix-I had looked at a few different sites to find one that was more than a roster, then I saw one with some analysis, looked at it very quickly, and linked it. Shoulda been a bit more deliberate.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:18 PM on January 02, 2010

I agree with you wholeheartedly on Modano. While getting young is probably a good idea, he not only adds leadership and experience, but he's still got some wheels. I'm also looking forward to watching Kesler play a bit more; in the few games I've watched him play, he's been all over the ice making plays (although am I correct in perceiving his hands as less than stellar?) On the same level, I think Parise will turn some heads of those who think Jersey is a defense-only club without an offensive star.

posted by tahoemoj at 01:23 PM on January 02, 2010

Kesler doesn't have the greatest hands but his play making has improved a real lot and he is an excellent skater. But on the US team he is not there for his scoring so much as being a defensive forward and he will be excellent at that. He is an extremely intelligent player who, one suspects, is also extremely coachable. If the Canucks ever dump their stupid goalie-as-captain thing then Kesler will be captain for sure. The poor guy, his Olympics is going to be 1. Check Ovechkin 2. Check Crosby 3. Check Zetterberg 4. go home a -7 having played extremely well.

Though if they wanted to stick him on the wing then he would be excellent there too on a top line -- he's a bit like Trevor Linden was for the 'nucks -- a natural winger who for depth reasons plays centre. On a team stronger up the middle he'd be a dominant right winger I think.

posted by rumple at 01:31 PM on January 02, 2010

The US's strength is in the net and on the wings. In an elimination tournament, of course they've got the talent to upset teams like Sweden and Canada, but on paper they don't match up well.

I like the youth movement - it's a changing of the guard with a look to the future. Why not? Expectations aren't particularly high. Take a shot. Hope to ride a hot goalie (both Miller and Thomas are capable of crazy streaks of hotness).

However, the reality is there are about 12 guys on this team that wouldn't crack the lineups of Sweden, Russia or Canada.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:08 PM on January 02, 2010

The youth movement did pretty well about 30 years ago, here's to hoping for the same.

posted by BoKnows at 07:04 PM on January 02, 2010

Paul Martin unsure if he'll be ready. So who's on the taxi squad?

It's kind of hard for me to believe that Rafalski is the oldest. That makes me feel old. And Callahan and Drury over Gomez and Gionta? I wonder if Tortorella had any influence in that decision.

posted by MrFrisby at 05:25 AM on January 03, 2010

And Callahan and Drury over Gomez and Gionta? I wonder if Tortorella had any influence in that decision.

Gomez is such an unproductive player who's having another disappointing season. There's no reason to put him on the team over a player who might play in 2 more Olympics games like Callahan. Drury is the more talented consistent disappointment.

There's an argument to be made that Gionta could be on it, but his size against elite defenders like they'll see in the Olympics is a drawback.

posted by dfleming at 12:53 PM on January 03, 2010

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