USA! USA! USA! Let's face it, it must be cool to chant if you're American, but I hate the sound, and I'm only British. I can only imagine how cloying it must be for Canadians to hear the Americans enjoying their sport. Luckily, this Team USA may boast the reigning NHL scoring champion, and excellent goaltending, but that's it. This isn't a great, or deep, roster. Enjoy the read!
Who exactly are Team USA?
We all know who the coach is. John Tortorella, Destroyer of Dreams, Pugilist of A Thousand Threats, Coach of Terror. Those, and all his real nicknames, none of which are repeatable here. Trying to survive this Torts regime is GM Dean Lombardi and assistant coaches Jack Capuano, Phil Housley, Mike Sullivan, Scott Gordon and John Hynes. Good luck guys, you are going to need it.
Torts has already called out Max Pacioretty for his play, in case you hadn't already laughed at the news. If I were a coach, I'd keep my 30-goal scorers on side, not publicly ridicule them. But I guess that's what makes us all unique.
Which Canucks should I look out for?
Thanks to age-related decline there is no place for Ryan Miller any more (that, and this team has great goalies). As a consequence, there are no Canucks to watch on Team USA. This means we can enjoy them losing all the more. There are a couple of former Canucks - Cory Schneider (who likely won't play), and Ryan Kesler. I really want this team to lose.
Projected lines (with the catch-all of who-the-hell-knows how Torts will react to events):
Parise - Pavelski - Kane
Pacioretty - Kesler - Wheeler
Palmieri - Stepan - Backes
Abdelkader - Dubinsky - Oshie
Suter - Byfuglien
McDonagh - Carlson
Johnson - Johnson
Quick - Bishop - Schneider
What can we look forward to with this team?
- Joe Pavelski leads the team as captain, and will see Patrick Kane alongside him. Other than that, this is a collection of 40-60pt forwards, all solid with a 2-way game, but there is only one true game-breaker - Kane. I believe Blake Wheeler could steal the limelight however. Guy scores more than you'd think.
- While I like the D, I've never warmed to the Johnsons, and Niskanen's presence shows how their depth isn't at the same level as, say, Sweden or Canada.
- Goaltending is the real strength, and arguably the best of the eight teams. I'd have made Schneids my starter though, which is something I believe Torts is going to regret by the end of the group stage.
How will they do?
It's not clear at this stage whether a team of good pros who can all chip in will stomp their way through a series of 2-1 wins, or whether they'll be blown away by more talented (and enigmatic) sides. I'm hoping the latter.
A semi-final loss to Team North America. Which is about as much as this roster can expect.