USA vs. Russia: Final Grades and Analysis for Team USA

Jonathan WillisFeatured Columnist IVApril 4, 2017

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15:  T.J. Oshie #74 of the United States scores on a shootout against Sergei Bobrovski #72 of Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day eight of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

The most anticipated match of the group phase lived up to the hype. 

The game's first period saw two exceptional teams testing each other, playing cautiously but each managing good chances against the other. Russia jumped to the lead in the second period, thanks to a brilliant play by Pavel Datsyuk that split the American defence. The United States looked briefly taken aback, but they were able to avenge that goal before the end of the middle frame, with a James van Riemsdyk pass redirecting off Cam Fowler's skate past Russian stopper Sergei Bobrovsky. 

Again on the power play in the third period, Patrick Kane made a gorgeous cross-ice pass to Joe Pavelski, who triggered a perfect shot that gave the United States a 2-1 lead and what appeared to be a decisive hold on the game. Russia battled back, as the Americans had earlier, taking advantage of an undisciplined Dustin Brown penalty and notching a power-play goal of their own, again from Datsyuk. 

What happened the rest of the way was thrilling for the American side and tragic for the Russians. Fedor Tyutin beat Jonathan Quick cleanly with a shot from the blue line, a shot that should never have beaten the American starter but should have sealed the win. Unnoticed, however, the net had come slightly off, and so the goal was disallowed. In the ensuing shootout, Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk put on an impressive display for Russia, but T.J. Oshie scored four times on six tries, ultimately handing the Americans the victory.

Team USA lineup 


First line: James van Riemsdyk—Joe Pavelski—Phil Kessel

Second line: Dustin Brown—Ryan Kesler—Patrick Kane

Third line: Zach Parise—David Backes—Ryan Callahan

Fourth line: Max Pacioretty—Paul Stastny—T.J. Oshie

Spare forward: Blake Wheeler


First pair: Ryan Suter—Ryan McDonagh

Second pair: Brooks OrpikPaul Martin

Third pair: Cam Fowler—Kevin Shattenkirk

Spare defenceman: John Carlson


• Jonathan Quick

• Ryan Miller

• Scratches: Derek Stepan, Justin Faulk, Jimmy Howard

Final Player Grades

Petr David Josek/Associated Press

No. 3 Cam Fowler, B+. Fowler had six shifts in the first period, contributing a single shot on net for Team USA. He scored an important power-play goal for Team USA to knot the score at 1-1 in the second period. Fowler made a mistake at centre ice late in the second, blowing a tire and turning the puck over to Evgeni Malkin; the Americans were able to keep that mistake from resulting in a goal against.

No. 4 John Carlson, C-. Carlson was demoted to the No. 7 slot on the American blue line, and consequently, he only had four shifts against the Russians in the game’s opening frame. They were, however, eventful; both sides had a scoring chance while Carlson was on the ice. He wasn’t able to move over enough to prevent Pavel Datsyuk from scoring Russia’s first goal after an initial mistake by Brooks Orpik. Carlson had just 16 seconds of ice time after the game's first 40 minutes.    

No. 7 Paul Martin, C+. Martin played seven shifts in the first period, most of them against one of the top-two Russian lines; he came away with a minus-one scoring chances rating through the frame and was minus-two over the course of the game. He played a little under 16 minutes overall.  

Petr David Josek/Associated Press

No. 8 Joe Pavelski, B+. Pavelski had a difficult first period in the faceoff dot, winning one draw and losing four of them; he made up for that in the second by winning three in a row. Despite pivoting Team USA’s best line, Pavelski wasn’t as involved in the offence as his wingers and was occasionally replaced by Paul Stastny. That changed in the third period, where Pavelski was the triggerman on Team USA’s 2-1 goal on the power play. He had a chance to win the shootout on the United States’ third attempt but was stopped.  

No. 9 Zach Parise, C+. Parise tried to go to the net with the puck on his first shift of the game, but he was forced to the outside by the Russian defender. He had 15 shifts through two periods and 25 over the course of the game but didn't manage a shot.

No. 17 Ryan Kesler, C+. Kesler played nine shifts in the first period and won three of four faceoffs. He was clearly hurt by a shot block while on the penalty kill in the second period, taking an Ilya Kovalchuk blast off the hand. He lost four of six faceoffs in the middle frame. The third period saw a key faceoff win on the power play, one that eventually led to Joe Pavelski’s 2-1 goal. Kesler’s line was the Americans’ worst at even strength, getting out-chanced 5-2.   

No. 20 Ryan Suter, C+. Suter lost a one-on-one battle against Evgeni Malkin in the defensive zone, turning the puck over after he had established possession but overall had a reasonably strong first 40 minutes against tough opponents. He was unable to block a tricky Pavel Datsyuk shot on a third period penalty kill; with traffic in front of Jonathan Quick, that shot eluded the American goalie.  

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: James van Riemsdyk #21 of the United States shoots against Sergei Bobrovski #72 of Russia in the second period during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day eight of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolsho
Al Bello/Getty Images

No. 21 James van Riemsdyk, B+. Van Riemsdyk had the best chance for Team USA early, getting a shot on Russian starter Sergei Bobrovsky from close-in a hair over five minutes into the match, but the shot hit Bobrovsky squarely in the chest. He had another great chance halfway through the game, a backhand from the slot that Bobrovsky gloved. Van Riemsdyk followed that up by earning the primary assist on Cam Fowler’s power-play goal, banking the puck in off Fowler’s skate. He was stopped in Team USA's second shootout attempt.

No. 22 Kevin Shattenkirk, B+.  Shattenkirk had the Americans’ first shot, from outside the scoring chance area roughly two minutes in. He was able to neutralize what would have been a scoring chance for Nikolai Kulemin, redirecting his shot out of play. He had a hard shot on the power play that started the second period but one that came from outside the scoring chances area; he had a better chance at even strength later in the same frame. He earned a second assist on Team USA’s 2-1 goal, though he didn’t do much other than briefly handle the puck.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15:  Dustin Brown #23 of the United States collides wih Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day eight of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 15,
Clive Mason/Getty Images

No. 23 Dustin Brown, D+. Brown took a hard hit seven minutes in from Los Angeles Kings teammate Slava Voynov, but that didn’t prevent him from playing physically himself. He had one shot in the game’s opening frame. He finished off Evgeni Malkin with a heavy hit early in the second period, and then he drew a penalty by goading Alexander Radulov into a bad cross-checking play after hitting Pavel Datsyuk; that last one was especially important because Team USA tied the game at 1-1 on the ensuing power play. He took a tripping minor on a marginal call. It was exactly the kind of call Brown normally excels in drawing, where a penalty wasn’t really committed; live by the sword, die by the sword might be the best way to regard that one. He made a bad neutral zone giveaway in the third period and followed that up with a dumb penalty that absolutely needed to be avoided  at that stage (and, for that matter) any stage of the game; Datsyuk tied the game 2-2 on the power play that followed.

No. 24 Ryan Callahan, B+. Callahan had a nice chance from the high slot early in the game and then engaged in a physical altercation with Russian defender Evgeni Medvedev. In the last half of the second period, he made what was a critical shot block to prevent a great Russian chance that might have made the score 2-0. He came out on the shift following the 1-1 goal with a nice shot from just outside the scoring chance area. He made a critical block on Alex Ovechkin early in the third period that clearly stung and had him limping off the ice. He had a nice steal late in the third period at the offensive blue line but wasn’t able to turn it into anything.  He drew a penalty on a great play a shift later with less than two minutes left in the third period, sending the Americans to a ciritical power play.

No. 26 Paul Stastny, B+. The most reliable faceoff man on the team in the opening period won all the draws he took. He was double-shifted at times for the purpose of taking faceoffs early on and then more extensively the rest of the way as a general fill-in.

No. 27 Ryan McDonagh, B+. McDonagh was physical and engaged early and often, particularly in front of the benches against Alexander Ovechkin. He made a great stand up play at centre ice that thwarted a Russian attack late in the third period. He had a very solid game, especially given that he was playing his off-side. 

No. 28 Blake Wheeler, D. Wheeler took a penalty against Ilya Kovalchuk on his first shift of the game after he turned over the puck to the Russian side; that was his only contribution in the first period, and his only other shift came as he skated out of the penalty box. He didn’t see the ice the rest of the way.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15:  Jonathan Quick #32 of the United States makes a save on a shootout against Pavel Datsyuk #13 of Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day eight of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice D
Clive Mason/Getty Images

No. 32 Jonathan Quick, B-. Quick was perfect in the first period, and he was tested a few times, stopping all 13 shots he faced. He was beat by Pavel Datsyuk on a great chance in the second and saw two Ovechkin shots go off the post on the power play, but he had stopped 20 of 21 shots through two periods. The third saw him surrender not only the tying goal but also a Fedor Tyutin shot from the middle of nowhere; the latter was disallowed thanks to the net being just slightly off square, which was a huge break for Quick. He finished the game with a 0.935 save percentage through regulation, but he gave the Russians two great chances to win it before making a critical save on Kovalchuk that allowed T.J. Oshie to win the game.

No. 42 David Backes, B-. Backes got a nice backhand shot off after stealing the puck from Evgeni Malkin in the first period.  He was heavily aggressive on the first American penalty kill, nearly taking the puck from Sergei Bobrovsky in the offensive zone. He went 0-for-3 in the faceoff circle in the first and 2-for-6 in the second. He hammered Russian defenceman Fedor Tyutin with a highlight reel hit in the neutral zone; an exchange with Tyutin moments later resulted in coincidental minors.

No. 44 Brooks Orpik, D+. Orpik was run over by Alexander Ovechkin late in the first period, and the two engaged in front of the benches at the end of that shift. He had one shot in the game’s opening stanza. Early in the second period he was able to block an Alexander Semin shot from a dangerous area, preventing a scoring chance; after a Russian power play expired, almost the same play occurred with a different attacker, but this time Orpik wasn’t able to prevent the shot. He made the primary error on Russia’s first goal, getting too aggressive on Pavel Datsyuk and then getting beat back to the middle of the ice, which allowed Datsyuk to split the defence.

No. 67 Max Pacioretty, C. Pacioretty drew a penalty in the dying seconds of the first period, sending Team USA to a power play that looked extremely dangerous early but proved unable to deliver a scoring chance after the break. That was a positive that he undid by taking a bad penalty on the backcheck against Russia’s Valeri Nichushkin five minutes into the second. He got a stick on Pavel Datsyuk, but it was not enough to prevent Russia’s first goal.

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15:  T.J. Oshie #74 of the United States scores on a shootout against Sergei Bobrovski #72 of Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day eight of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on
Al Bello/Getty Images

No. 74 T.J. Oshie, A-. Oshie played a hair under four minutes in the game’s first period, recording a single shot; he had less time and less impact in the second but played key minutes when the Americans shortened their bench in the third. He made a slow approach on the shootout but then made a great shot to put the Americans ahead in the skills competition; he was stopped on a second chance but scored on both a third and a fourth, both times to keep Team USA in the match. His fifth attempt was saved, but he won the game for the Americans on his sixth try. 

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15:  Ilya Nikulin #5 of Russia falls to the ice against Phil Kessel #81 and James van Riemsdyk #21 of United States during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day eight of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolsh
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

No. 81 Phil Kessel, A+.  Kessel’s first shift of the same saw him go offside on the attack. He stole the puck off Ilya Kovalchuk late in the first period but wasn’t able to generate anything off it. He had a really nice scoring chance late in the game’s opening frame and was the engine of Team USA’s most dangerous line early. He had a great opportunity early in the second but couldn’t quite get the puck through a Russian defender, then found Kevin Shattenkirk with a fantastic pass for a scoring chance a few shifts later. He was good at the other end, too, covering for Ryan Suter after the American defender was trapped up ice on a pinch. Kessel made the initial shot on the American power play late in the second period that tied the score of the game at 1-1, too. Over the course of the game, the Americans were plus-four in scoring chances with Kessel on the ice and minus-six with him off it at even strength.

No. 88 Patrick Kane, B. Kane didn’t get much done at even strength in the first period but looked extremely dangerous on the power play, getting two scoring chances and buzzing around in the net in the dying seconds of the first. He took a penalty in the defensive zone with one second to go in the middle period. Kane found Joe Pavelski with a brilliant cross-ice pass on the power play in the third period to give the Americans a 2-1 lead. He was stopped on an overtime breakaway by Sergei Bobrovsky and then stopped again on a great chance in the last minute of overtime play.