The Olympic Men’s Hockey Tournament is only a couple days away. There are definite concerns about Team USA, mainly questions as to whether or not they can repeat their performance in 2010. In order for that to happen, some of their offensive stars need to step up, and that includes Chicago Blackhawks superstar Patrick Kane.
As the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, Kane certainly has plenty of pressure on him. While 2013 was a very productive year, 2014 has not turned out the same way so far. The United States, which already has plenty of offensive firepower picked in order to compete on the larger European ice surfaces, needs Kane to be productive. Paired up with Minnesota Wild winger and Team USA captain Zach Parise, there’s certainly a good chance Kane will be productive. It was Kane who fired the shot that Parise rebounded in for the tying goal in the 2010 Gold Medal Game after all.
Much of the pressure on Team USA will be because of the supposed defensive shortcomings, which again, requires the offense to do its job. Kane is one of the best puck handlers in the NHL, and he showed off his skills to European fans during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season; it’s also where he gained valuable experience on the larger rinks in Switzerland. Kane is also more mature now than he was in 2010, and he hopes that maturity can help him be the scorer he needs to be.
That also includes scoring, both on assists and in goal-scoring. Kane is surrounded by the likes of Ryan Callahan, Parise, Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Joe Pavelski and David Backes, all of whom can skate with the best in the world. If Kane regains the form he had in the late part of 2013, the United States could have the best offense in the Tournament. For that reason, Kane needs to step up and deliver. Given who he is and what he’s done, it’s definitely possible he could do that.
So, while a few news outlets declare that Russia is the team to beat or Canada is too deep in forwards, the fact of the matter is, Team USA should not be counted out. Thanks to players like Kane, the Americans have plenty of firepower that can surprise the international competition. And if Kane plays out of his mind, the Americans could repeat or better their performance in 2010. The heartbreak of being so close to the Gold Medal only to have it criminally and cruelly ripped away by a certain someone should be enough incentive.