2010 Winter Olympics: Team USA vs. Norway Highlights and Analysis

Tonight's Healthy ScratchesCorrespondent IFebruary 18, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 16:  (L-R) Goalie Ryan Miller and Jack Johnson of the United States celebrate after team USA won 3-1 against Switzerland during the ice hockey men's preliminary game 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

There's something right with the world today
And everybody knows it's wrong
But we can tell 'em no or we could let it go
But I would rather be a hanging on

Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself from fallin'
Livin' On the Edge
You can't help yourself at all
Livin' On the Edge

Maybe Team USA was blasting a little too much Aerosmith in the dressing room before they took the ice at against Norway today.

With their risky play, they were certainly living on the edge.

The 6-1 final might be a little deceiving for someone just looking at the boxscore; make no mistake, this was not a blowout.

Three of Team USA's goals came within the final five minutes of the game. Up until that point, the game could have easily blown up in the faces of the men wearing red, white, and blue.

If anybody watched the Czech Republic-Slovakia game early this morning—the best game of the tournament so far in my eyes—you would have noticed a complete strategy change by the Czechs during the third period.

With a 3-1 lead, the Czech Republic completely switched gears from a back-and-forth game with the Slovaks, to a complete defensive shutdown. Most of the time, the Czech's sent one attacker into the offensive zone and forced Slovakia to penetrate a defensive wall in order to generate any offensive stability.

Enter Team USA.

With their 3-1 lead, Team USA, rather than sit back and protect the lead, they decided to take risk after risk—many of which could have backfired if not for the stellar play of Ryan Miller.

"We were too sloppy in the neutral zone," said U.S. forward David Backes. "They had a lot of odd-man rushes; Ryan Miller was huge for us making saves in key spots."

Backes also noted that the score wasn't indicative of the play on the ice.

If the U.S. has any plans of upsetting Canada on Sunday, they're not going to do it with the play they've shown these first two games.

"It's obviously going to be our toughest game of the tournament so far," said veteran Brian Rafalski.

If they bring the same gameplan they brought today against Norway, it's just going to be another blowout for Canada to mark on their board.

The U.S. can't pinch their defensemen the way they did today. And if they do, they better make sure that the forwards come back and not only cover for the pinching blueliner, but make the defensive play when needed.

"Obviously there's going to be a little more focus," said Rafalski. "We're going to have to be a little more cautious; not on our heels, but definitely a little more aware of what's going on, especially in our own zone and neutral zone."

One positive that can be taken from the 6-1 win—that sounds kind of weird, trying to find positives when you defeat an opponent by five goals—is that the U.S. spread the scoring around.

Five different players recorded goals for the U.S., while 12 players were on the score sheet.

Chris Drury, Patrick Kane, Ryan Malone, and Phil Kessel all scored a goal, while Rafalski netted two.

Team USA's toughest challenge will be on Sunday, when they clash with their border-rivals, and gold-medal favorite, Team Canada.


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