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It was an inexperienced group that came within a goal of gold in 2010. This time around, Team USA is loaded with players who boast Olympic experience and success.
There are 13 players back from the 2010 team that won silver, including captain Zach Parise, Phil Kessel, David Backes, Ryan Miller and Ryan Suter. There is no shortage of leaders on this team, and the players getting their first taste of the Olympics are having outstanding NHL seasons.
James van Riemsdyk, Max Pacioretty and Blake Wheeler are all first-time Olympians who are on their way to 30-goal seasons in the NHL. There is great depth among the forward group, so scoring should not be a problem.
Miller was the tournament MVP in 2010 and the biggest reason Team USA reached the gold-medal game. He is joined by first-time Olympian Jonathan Quick, who has emerged over the past three seasons as one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.
Coach Dan Bylsma will have a tough decision to make, if he hasn't made it already: Who should be his No. 1 goaltender? Miller has the experience and track record, but Quick has shown he can be nearly unbeatable on a big stage with his success in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
For the first game at least, the pick is Quick. Bylsma announced Wednesday that Quick will get the start against Slovakia on Thursday morning.
"We're dealing from a position of strength when it comes to the goaltender position," Bylsma said, via USAHockey.com. "A position where we have two very good guys to be in net, and Jonathan will be getting the nod."
It's possible Bylsma will wait to see how Miller and Quick perform in group play before deciding who will be his goaltender for the tournament's elimination games.
How will Team USA fare on the larger Olympic ice? History has shown the Americans struggle outside of North America on big European ice, as they failed to medal in Nagano in 1998 and Turin in 2006. But at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Team USA won silver playing on the larger ice.
This year's team may be better equipped than any recent team to handle the transition, as it has several players who played overseas during a lockout and spent some time on big ice in college. Carol Schram delved into this issue here and showed certain Americans may have an easier time adjusting.