U.S. Men's Hockey: Sorry, No Gold This Year

Matthew HoganAnalyst IFebruary 16, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 16:  Bobby Ryan of The United States celebrates after he scored the first goal during the ice hockey men's preliminary game between USA and Switzerland on day 5 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 16, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Let me start by saying that, after today, I am a curling fanatic. Can anyone else believe the ending to the United States—Japan women’s match? Yes, I really watched it. But before you judge me any further, let’s move on to hockey.

The United States’ men’s hockey team started group play with a 3-1 win over Switzerland, but it wasn’t pretty and could be a sign of things to come.

The U.S. looked very sloppy in the opening period, which can be attributed to a young team just feeling the pre-Olympic jitters.

“I think as a group we were a little nervous early,” goaltender Ryan Miller said after the game.

The second period was the only period where the U.S. really looked comfortable. In the second, the U.S.A. out-shot Switzerland 14-4. They out-shot the Swiss 24-15 for the game.

Although the Swiss team had just 15 shots for the entire game, it missed a lot of opportunities in front of the net that teams like Canada and Russia would have buried.

The United States seemed to relax a little in the third period, as it was out-shot 6-2. This is a habit that will surely doom Team U.S.A.

Switzerland was on full attack mode in the third, but the team’s insufficient and disorganized offense managed just six shots. If the United States plays on its heels when leading against a team like Canada—assuming the U.S. ever leads in the game against Canada—they will not be able to hold on for the win.

The U.S. also had several careless neutral zone giveaways that, again, many of the other teams would have capitalized on.

Swiss goaltender Jonas Hiller looked good in his first Olympic game, but he was definitely not where he needs to be if Switzerland has any hopes of placing. Like many of the young U.S. players, Hiller may have been a little nervous himself.

While the U.S. did have several bright moments—like David Backes' gorgeous second period goal—it just doesn't look like enough at the moment.

By now, many of you are probably wondering, “How can you base the rest of the tournament on one game?”

Well, watch Canada and Russia play later this evening. I know they are playing weaker teams, but I guarantee they will not just be looking to win—both teams will be looking to embarrass their opponents.

Team U.S.A. was happy with the win, but it certainly didn’t look like the effort of a potential gold medal team.