5 Reasons Team USA Will Win Gold In Hockey At 2014 Winter Olympics
5 Reasons USA Hockey Will Win The Gold
Saturday, March 8 is when USA Hockey starts their journey towards redemption. They were heartbroken in Vancouver when Sidney Crosby scored the go-ahead goal in overtime of the gold medal game. The sight of the Pittsburgh Penguins star hugging it out on his home ice in a sea of red, white and black is still ingrained in the minds of many Americans.
There is some controversy with some of the choices that were made by Team USA to go to this year's Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Of course, everyone is talking about the snubs. Bobby Ryan, Keith Yandle and Kyle Okposo have their reasons to feel like they deserved to be on the team. The fact is, no matter who "should" be on the team, we have to deal with the team we have.
There is plenty to be happy about with this team. Is USA the kind of team that is going to be the odds on favorite? No. We don't have the star power of Canada or the home ice like they have in Russia. That doesn't mean that America has no shot at winning the gold.
With the different ice that will be introduced in Sochi, anything can happen. It is smaller than what the KHL (Russia's hockey league) is working with, but much bigger than an NHL standard rink. The adjustments on both sides will be the key to winning in this tournament. Dan Bylsma will have a hard job on his hands, trying to get this team to win gold.
It won't be easy, but these are five ways USA Hockey can come home with the gold medal this March.
Nick Villano is the New Jersey Devils writer for Rant Sports. He also adds to the site's NBA, NFL and MLB content. You can easily follow him on Twitter here.
5. A Young Defensive Core
This may sound like a negative, but on the big ice this is definitely a positive. For one, their speed up front with help keep up with (at least theoretically) with the serious amount of speed on the other team's rosters. Second, although they aren't used to the ice yet, they don't have habits in regards to ice that go back 10-20 years. They will be able to adapt easier thanks to their lack of games. With five of their eight defensemen less than 25 years old, not only will it help with this year's games, but it shows the bright future of this team.
4. A Different Style Of Play
It is no surprise that Team USA built their team a little differently than all the other teams. They put some more hard-nosed players on instead of those who can just score. Players like Paul Stastny, Joe Pavelsky and Derek Stepan will give this team a different attitude. When you look at the other teams in the Olympics, you see they brought the best players. When you look at Team USA, you see they attempted to bring the best team. These tournaments can go any way, and a way to stand out from your competition will help when it is all said and done.
3. Top Lines Outscores Other Top Lines
If all of Team USA looked like their top two lines, many Americans would feel very good about their chances. With lines that consist of Patrick Kane, Zach Parise, Phil Kessell and James Van Riemsdyk, going up against the likes of Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk and Ryan Getzlaf doesn't seem so bad. The back end scoring is not as good as some of the other teams, but if they can find a way to have USA's top two lines outscore their counterparts, it will help give them a chance.
2. Clutch Scoring
Team USA knows all about this. In the gold medal game in Vancouver, the Canadians looked like they were going to win it in regulation, but USA still had some fight left. With their goalie on the bench for an extra attacker, Parise put home the tying goal with only 25 seconds left to play. The team never quit, and that is how they have to play this year if they want a chance at redemption. Keep fighting until the end and good things will happen.
1. Ryan Miller
When looking at the strengths and weaknesses of every other team going to Sochi, it seems USA is the only one with 100 percent confidence in their goaltender situation. Despite winning gold four years ago, Canada's Roberto Luongo seems to always have a question mark around him. Sweden's Henrik Lundqvist, the only other gold winning goalie in the tournament, has had his worst season as a pro. Sergei Bobrovsky and Semyon Varlamov have both had up and down careers. Ryan Miller took over Vancoucer, and he has all the capabilities to do it again in Sochi. He is the key to the Americans winning gold this year.