Courtesy of USAHockey.com
Hockey season is right around the corner. The best hockey players from all over the globe will gather in the two-week long World Cup of Hockey tournament. The tournament will begin on September 17 and conclude on October 1.
Over the last few days, the NoVA Caps team has previewed some of the teams that will participate in this tournament. So far, we have examined Group A and have previewed Team Canada and Team Czech Republic.
This next preview will take a look at Team USA. How will Team Red, White, and Blue stack up against the rest of the countries in this tournament?
This is an experienced group for the United States. 12 of the 13 skaters participating for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament are 26 years of age or older. Kyle Palmieri of the New Jersey Devils is the youngest forward for Team USA, as he is 25 years old.
32-year old San Jose Sharks Captain Joe Pavelski will also Captain Team USA’s team in the tournament. Pavelski packs a strong scoring punch, as he recorded 38 goals and 78 points for San Jose in 2015-16.
Another man who adds scoring depth to Team USA is the reigning NHL MVP Patrick Kane. Kane had a career season with the Chicago Blackhawks last season, recording 46 goals and 106 points.
A player that Washington Capitals fans might be familiar with is TJ Oshie. The king of the shootout has certainly made his name known on the international stage in previous years.
The experience continues with Team USA’s defense corps. All of Team USA’s defensemen are 26 years of age or older.
While there are not many household names on Team USA’s blue line, there are some quality defensemen who are relied upon heavily by their respective NHL clubs. New York Rangers Captain Ryan McDonagh is the anchor of the Rangers blue line, and regularly plays 25 minutes a game in the Big Apple.
Team USA also has a variation of an M1 Abrams tank that skates on their blue line. Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien stands at 6’5” tall and tips the scales at over 250 pounds, and he doesn’t mind steamrolling over anything in his path on the ice.
The Washington Capitals are also represented well with Team USA’s blue line. John Carlson and Matt Niskanen are two fan favorites in Washington DC, as they both log heavy minutes for the Capitals defense.
Team USA is one of the strongest teams top-to-bottom in the tournament at the goaltending position.
Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings), Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay Lightning), and Cory Schneider (New Jersey Devils) have all been at the top of the NHL’s goaltending categories the past few years. These goaltenders give their respective clubs a chance to win every single night.
Out of the three goaltenders, Jonathan Quick has built the best resume. Quick is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion, two-time Vezina Trophy finalist, and former Conn Smythe Trophy winner. In 2015-16, Quick recorded 40 wins, 2.22 goals against average, and a .918 save percentage.
GM: Dean Lombardi (Los Angeles Kings)
Head Coach: John Tortorella (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Assistant Coaches: Mike Sullivan (Pittsburgh Penguins), John Hynes (New Jersey Devils), Phil Housley (Nashville Predators), Jack Capuano (New York Islanders), Scott Gordon (Lehigh Valley Phantoms, AHL)
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
On paper, Team USA is solid and doesn’t have too many flaws. As hockey fans have seen in Team USA’s past, the offense tends to dry up at the wrong time for this roster.
The roster has been heavily criticized due to the fact that there could have been better options for additional scoring. Is Detroit’s Justin Abdelkader a better goal-scoring option versus Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan or Tampa Bay’s Tyler Johnson, who were notable Team USA snubs?
Since Team USA has plenty of veteran players, the lack of youth in the lineup shows. Team USA will not have the fastest team in this tournament, which could present a problem for them if they encounter a team with younger legs and more team speed.
The strength of Team USA will be inside of their net. They have the luxury of 3 really good goaltenders, and any of these guys could start and give Team USA a chance to win any game.
If Team USA can get some production from their blue line to help out the forwards, it will greatly increase their chances of winning this tournament. Out of the 7 defensemen on Team USA’s roster, only 3 of them have hit the 50+ point plateau in a season at the NHL level (Carlson, Byfuglien, Suter).
While Team USA may not have the scoring punch that Canada has, or the team speed that Team North America has, Team USA has the experience, goaltending, and veteran leadership that is needed to win. If the forwards can score some goals, and the blue line can chip in some points, Team USA should be able to medal in this tournament.
By: George Foussekis