The United States is the third of an eight-part series previewing the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Other team previews can be found here: Russia | Canada | Sweden | Czech Republic | Slovakia | Finland | Mexico (Satire)
For those supporting the United States, an initial reaction would be "How can we compete with that?" This roster may be lacking star power, but it lacks nothing in heart. There are many young players wanting to prove themselves in these Olympic games.
While the US had stars like Mike Modano, Brian Leetch, Brett Hull, and Jeremy Roenick in the past, the current roster has no players of that caliber.
They will be a contender for a medal, but can't be considered in the picture for the Gold. But scoring a medal in Vancouver would be a major accomplishment for this young squad.
C Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche
LW Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils
RW Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
C Chris Drury, New York Rangers
LW Scott Gomez, New York Rangers
RW Phil Kessel, Boston Bruins
C Mike Modano, Dallas Stars
LW Ryan Malone, Tampa Bay Lightning
RW Brian Gionta, New Jersey Devils
C Tim Connolly, Buffalo Sabres
LW Jamie Langenbrunner, New Jersey Devils
RW David Backes, St. Louis Blues
This group reminds me a lot of the US soccer team - not a lot of big names, but love-able nonetheless. The top line with youngsters like Kane, Parise and Stastny will be able to create a buzz once they begin to gel.
The second line is formed by a duo of New York Rangers, and Phil Kessel of the Bruins. Not what would be considered a flashy line, but they could be effective.
The third line will bring some serious grit to the ice in the form of Malone, Gionta and Modano. This line could give some competition trouble because of their physicality.
Connolly and Backes are two unsung heroes on this team. They don't make exceptional plays but they do the fundamental things with the puck, and they do it right. Langenbrunner is also a smart player.
Patrick O'Sullivan, Los Angeles Kings; Jason Pominville, Buffalo Sabres; Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks; Ryan Kessler, Vancouver Canucks
LD Brian Rafalski, Detroit Red Wings
RD Mike Komisarek, Montreal Canadiens
LD Ryan Whitney, Pittsburgh Penguins
RD Ryan Suter, Nashville Predators
LD Erik Johnson, St. Louis Blues
RD Paul Martin, New Jersey Devils
Again, there is nothing very flashy about this defensive unit, but they are not bad as a whole. Rafalski has been the head of the bunch for several years now, but the rest are mostly newcomers.
Ryan Whitney and Ryan Suter should be a nice pairing for second unit. Whitney is a better passer coming out of the defensive end, while Suter is very offensive-minded.
Erik Johnson is a well kept secret in St. Louis and his youth will be matched with the veteran experience of Paul Martin.
Jack Johnson, Los Angeles Kings; Keith Ballard, Florida Panthers; John-Michael Liles, Colorado Avalanche
G Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
G Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins
Miller has been the starter for Team USA for several years now, and despite Tim Thomas having a tremendous season, he should keep the position. Thomas will see time for sure though.
Rick DiPietro, New York Islanders
No medal. They will not qualify for the medal round.
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