They were one of the favorites to be standing on the podium on Sunday, receiving a gold medal. At the very least, USA was going to win silver or bronze, right? Everything was shaping up for the American team to be on the podium — everything except the offense.
Phil Kessel‘s goal 2:01 into the third period on Wednesday against the Czech Republic put the U.S. up 5-1 in a game they would ultimately win 5-2. Nobody could have imagined, though, that it would be the last goal the American squad would score in the Olympics.
Against Canada in the semifinals, Corey Price shut down team USA as they won 1-0. Price stopped all 31 shots he faced. On Saturday, facing arguably the best goaltender on the planet in Tuukka Rask, the USA once again couldn’t find the back of the net. The U.S. squad had their chances as the they took 27 shots on goal, only to watch Rask deny every one of them. Perhaps the most frustrating part of the game was Patrick Kane missing not one, but two penalty shots.
Instead of building on the silver medal performance from four years ago, the U.S. watched as Finland received the bronze medal after a 5-0 shutout loss. Every one of the players will get on a plane and fly back to their respective NHL teams to continue the season next week.
However, they have to be wondering what happened. A team that was dominating offensively just went completely cold in an instant. Perhaps they learned something valuable that will help them in the next Olympics: goaltending is the key to winning a medal. Too bad we have to wait four years to wipe away the memories of the past two games for the USA.