Predicting Team USA’s Medal Finish in Hockey at 2014 Winter Olympics
Team USA announced its hockey team at the Winter Classic, an outdoor game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. This was an exciting moment for me, sitting on the couch waiting in anticipation as the roster was announced.
It turned out the anticipation was the most thrilling part of the ceremony.
I spent the rest of the time waiting for the impressive roster to be revealed. To say that I was sorely disappointed is an understatement; I just did not think there was any logic whatsoever in the decision-making. Then came all of the talk from Team USA brass about the larger rink, more speed, more mobility, more versatility, etc.
I walked away from that discussion convinced that they were just saying what they needed to in order to avoid being held accountable for some poor choices.
Instead of naming who I think should be on the roster that wasn’t (or who I think is on the roster that should not be), I think that the best course of action would be to state my opinion that there are not that many players on Team USA that are elite shooters. I trust Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel, Zach Parise, and James Van Riemsdyk to score goals in a high-pressure tournament situation.
Besides the aforementioned players, I do not think that any of the skaters for Team USA have shown consistent ability to hit the back of the net in pressure situations throughout their careers. Ultimately, I am afraid that the Americans will be trying to “pass the puck into the net.”
On defense, the Americans are far too young. The argument for mobility from the D-corps will only go so far, as not being careful with the puck in transition could cost this team. Also, there are some members of the team who cannot in good conscious be called efficient puck-moving D-men.
Considering all of the aforementioned things, Team USA will not win a medal in Sochi. I realize this is a bold prediction given their surprise silver medal performance in Vancouver, but I truly believe that teams like Canada, Sweden, and Russia are just plain better than Team USA.
With this squad, even Finland, with excellent goalies and NHL-caliber players, could definitely upset the USA in the medal round. Unfortunately, I do not think that Team USA will hear their national anthem played on the podium this year.