Why Team USA can win gold in the Sochi Olympics
Fast forward to today and Team USA is one win away from advancing to the Gold Medal game against either Team Sweden or Team Finland. To get there, Team USA will have to beat Team Canada in what will surely feel like a Gold Medal game.
In watching Team USA over the past week or so, it is easy to see why they are the second best team in the tournament. With that said , however, Team USA should be looked at as more than the second best team heading into their semi-final tilt with their North American Rivals.
With that in mind, here are just a few reasons why Team USA could end up winning the Gold when all is said and done.
Production Up and Down the Lineup
Hockey is a team game and right now, Team USA might just be the best team from top to bottom, especially in terms of their offense.
In four games, Team USA has scored 19 goals. In fact, the only time that Team USA failed to score at least five goals in a game in this tournament was in their game against Team Russia when they scored two goals in regulation and ended up winning the game in a shootout.
The team is getting solid performances from the likes of Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Ryan Kesler, David Backes, Joe Pavelski, and TJ Oshie. In this tournament, each of these players have stepped up in each game and have made Team USA the best offensive hockey club in the tournament.
While Team USA's defensive corps is young, they have more than just got the job done for their country in this tournament.
Going into their semi-final game against Canada on Friday, Team USA has allowed just six goals in four games. The team's defense did a good job of shutting down Team Russia in their shootout victory on Saturday and in wins over Slovakia and Slovenia, the team's defensive corps made life easy for their netminders Jonathan Quick and Ryan Miller.
It should also be pointed out that Team USA's defense has also been involved on the offensive side of the puck in this tournament. In today's 5-2 win over the Czech Republic, Ryan Suter had three assists while both Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Shattenkirk each added assists of their own.
While the team's defense is going to be tasked with shutting down Canada's big forwards on Friday, there is no reason why they will not be able to accomplish that given what the solid job they have already done in this tournament.
When Team USA's defense has failed to make a play, their goaltenders have managed to come through with the big save.
This has especially been the case for netminder Jonathan Quick. Quick has started three of his team's four games and has shown head coach Dan Bylsma that he made the right decision in making him the team's number one goaltender.
In three games, Quick has allowed just five goals and has made the big save when his team has called upon him to do so. A perfect example of this was his strong play both in regulation (29 saves) and the shootout in his team's shootout victory over the Russians.
With a Cup under his belt, there is no doubt that Quick will be up to the challenge of being between the pipes when his team plays Canada for a chance to go to the Gold Medal game.
Team to Beat
While Team Sweden is the top ranked team in this tournament, it can be said that that title should belong to Team USA.
The team puts the puck in the net, plays great defense, and gets timely saves for their netminders. You put these three things together and you have the perfect formula for a winning hockey team.
Should USA beat Canada on Friday, the team will get the chance to play for what they deserve and that's the Gold Medal.