Dustin Brown tried to talk Phil Kessel into giving up his stick in the third period, and why not? What hockey player wouldn't want a stick that had earlier produced three goals on its first three shots, as Kessel accomplished in Sunday morning's 5-0 Team USA win over Slovenia in the final game of the preliminary round.
Now it's on to the quarterfinals for the Americans, who have yet to lose a game and are averaging five goals a game.
The following are some letter grades for the lines, defensive pairs and goaltender Ryan Miller, followed by added analysis.
|Team USA Grades|
|Line or Pairing||1st-Period Grade||2nd-Period Grade||3rd-Period Grade||Overall Grade|
|Zach Parise-David Backes-Ryan Callahan||B||B||A||B+|
|Dustin Brown-Ryan Kesler-Patrick Kane||C||C||C||C|
|James van Riemsdyk-Joe Pavelski-Phil Kessel||A||A||A||A|
|Blake Wheeler-Paul Stastny-T.J. Oshie (Derek Stepan)||B||A||B||B+|
|Cam Fowler-John Carlson||A||A||A||A|
|Ryan Suter-Paul Martin||B||B||B||B|
|Ryan McDonagh-Kevin Shattenkirk||B||A||A||A-|
Zach Parise-David Backes-Ryan Callahan - Backes scored a nice third-period goal that put the game even further out of reach. The line was solid overall, grinding well down low at times.
Dustin Brown-Ryan Kesler-Patrick Kane - This trio was the least noticeable of the American lines. Brown threw a couple of passes away and Kane didn't seem much interested in shooting or going to the net.
James van Riemsdyk-Joe Pavelski-Phil Kessel - A hat trick day for Kessel earns the game's first star, for sure. He really made a great move on his first goal, turning Slovenia's Mitja Robar into a pretzel before slipping a shot past goalie Luka Gracnar.
Blake Wheeler-Paul Stastny-T.J. Oshie - No shootout heroics needed today from Oshie, but his line had a great shift in the second period that allowed for a wholesale line change and, eventually, Phil Kessel's third goal of the game.
Cam Fowler-John Carlson - A strong, steady game from both players. Fowler has had an excellent tournament so far.
Ryan Suter-Paul Martin - Martin made an excellent poke-check of a pass early on that could have led to a point-blank Slovenia chance.
Ryan McDonagh-Kevin Shattenkirk - You didn't notice them a whole lot, which is a compliment to defensemen most of the time. It was here.
Ryan Miller - He lost the shutout with 18 seconds left. Otherwise, he was good when he had to be, which in this game was after the U.S. let down some after Kessel's second early goal.
Special teams - The Americans caught an early break when Slovenia's only NHL player, Anze Kopitar, left the bench on their first power play. The Americans were able to kill that off a lot easier without him on the ice. The U.S.'s own power play seemed uninterested at times, but you couldn't fault them for being somewhat on a letdown after Saturday's thriller against Russia.
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