USA vs. Czech Republic Olympic Hockey 2014: Live Grades, Analysis for Team USA

Jonathan WillisNHL National ColumnistFebruary 19, 2014

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 19:  David Backes #42 (2nd L) of the United States celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's third goal against Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Czech Republic in the first period during the Men's Ice Hockey Quarterfinal Playoff on Day 12 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Shayba Arena on February 19, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Martin Rose/Getty Images

The Czechs should have been a test for Team USA. Instead the Americans, who have stood up under a tough schedule for the entire tournament, routed a team that was a decided mismatch in net and especially behind the bench.

It wasn't a perfect game for the United States, despite the 5-2 score. The depth players on both defence and up front weren't very good, and if not for the fact that Jonathan Quick outplayed Ondrej Pavelec by a laughable margin this one might have been competitive. 

The United States now advances to the semifinals for a date with a Canadian team that had all it could handle against Latvia. For those who believe in the power of momentum, Team USA has it in spades. 

Team USA Grades
Line/PairingAfter 1stAfter 2ndFinal
James van Riemsdyk-Joe Pavelski-Phil KesselC+B-B+
Zach Parise-Ryan Kesler-Patrick KaneB+BB+
Dustin Brown-David Backes-Ryan CallahanAAA-
Max Pacioretty-Paul Stastny-T.J. Oshie/Blake WheelerCC+C-
Ryan Suter-Ryan McDonaghB+A-A
Brooks Orpik-Paul MartinB+C+C+
Cam Fowler-Kevin Shattenkirk/John CarlsonC-C-C-
Jonathan QuickCBA-
Special TeamsN/AAA-
vs. Czech Republic


Final Analysis

James van Riemsdyk—Joe Pavelski—Phil Kessel

Van Riemsdyk had a bad-angle goal in the first period, but did it while skating with Team USA's second line. This line had three first-rate scoring chances but gave up opportunities the other way too. Kessel scored the 5-1 goal and his speed made him dangerous all game.

Zach Parise—Ryan Kesler—Patrick Kane

This line did an ice job of out-chancing the Czechs, and though they failed to score an even-strength goal in the game they were on the ice for van Riemsdyk's first period marker and Kesler made the pass for Kessel's goal in the third. 

Dustin Brown—David Backes—Ryan Callahan

It was this trio that was victimized on Ales Hemsky's goal, but they earned that back and then some, with David Backes scoring one goal on a prone Pavelec and assisting on another by Dustin Brown. Backes had two great chances in the second too, as this line surprisingly led the way offensively for Team USA. 

Max Pacioretty—Paul Stastny—T.J. Oshie/Blake Wheeler

Pacioretty had a pretty decent scoring chance shortly before Dustin Brown's goal, but this line spent way too much time in its own end against the Czechs in the first period. They were better in the second but faltered again in the third. 

Ryan Suter—Ryan McDonagh

The top unit was on the ice for four American scoring chances in the first period, the best total of any of these lines or pairings. They did get burned on Hemsky's goal but like the third forward line were also on the ice for two USA goals. Their strong play continued into the second period, where they didn't allow a single Czech scoring chance. This pair finished the game as easily USA's best. 

Brooks Orpik—Paul Martin

The second pair spent some time in their own end but did nice work in front of the net and came out of the first period on the black scoring chances-wise. They got buried in the second period though, out-chanced by a 3:1 ratio in the frame. Overall, it was an uneven game for this second unit. 

Cam Fowler—Kevin Shattenkirk/John Carlson

This trio created some offence, but more than half of Czech chances through the game had at least one of these three defencemen on the ice. They spent too much time in their own end, and allowed the Czech Republic too much space in front of the net.

Jonathan Quick

Quick was a little shaky in the first period. He wasn't really at fault on the goal against, but he was beat by Ales Hemsky in the slot (Ryan Callahan bailed him out by sweeping the puck away after it trickled through) and had a Petr Nedved shot ring off the crossbar. He looked much better as he settled in the rest of the way, making some very significant saves and playing at a level far, far above what Pavelec managed at the other end of the rink.

Special Teams

Team USA scored on its first power play and finished the game 1-for-3. The team also killed the lone penalty it took.