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Tag:Erin Brown
Posted on: February 26, 2010 11:02 am
Edited on: February 26, 2010 5:14 pm
 

Live Blog: United States vs. Finland

By Erin Brown

Final: UNITED STATES 6, Finland 1 -- The United States improves to 5-0 in the tournament and advances to the gold-medal game. Patrick Kane scores twice, Zach Parise finishes with a goal and an assist, and defenseman Brian Rafalski registers two assists.

3rd period, 2:22 left: Here's an interesting bit you're bound to hear a lot before Sunday: In the five Winter Olympics held in North America, the United States has played for men's hockey gold in four of those. (1960 Squaw Valley, 1980 Lake Placid, 2002 Salt Lake City, 2010 Vancouver).

3rd period, 5:14 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 6, Finland 1 -- Antti Miettinen's slap shot from the left circle hits Jack Johnson in the side and finds its way past Tim Thomas.

3rd period, 6:23 left: Erik Johnson steps into Tuomo Ruutu, who is chasing his own puck along the right boards. Johnson is headed to the box for interference.

3rd period, 8:47 left: Ouch! Bobby Ryan takes a puck to the side of the helmet and drops to the ice while holding his head. He's on the bench holding an ice bag to his left ear.

3rd period, 11:30 left: The Americans have pulled Ryan Miller in favor of Tim Thomas. Smart move by Ron Wilson to get his top guy some rest before Sunday. One thing this guarantees: when the U.S. wins a medal, Thomas will be part of the official Olympic record. Neither Thomas or Jonathan Quick appeared in a game to this point, and to be recognized as a member of a medal-winning team, they need to get on the ice for at least one play.

3rd period, 11:31 left: After some good buzzing by the Finns, Sami Lepisto cross-checks Ryan Malone in the chest and gets a penalty.

3rd period, 13:01 left: Things are getting a little chippy between Saku Koivu and Brooks Orpik. The two come together behind the net, and Orpik falls to the ice, tying up Koivu's stick. Koivu pulls it out, kind of hitting Orpik with it at the same time. Orpik follows him around on the ice and delivers a hit as the whistle blows. They get their gloves up, but nothing comes of it.

3rd period, 15:15 left: Finland can't connect on the power play, but the U.S. effort on the penalty kill isn't that great. Near the end of the two minutes, Saku Koivu tries to tip a shot past Miller, then takes a few too many whacks at the American goalie. Erik Johnson comes in and, again, by tighter international standards, pops him in the helmet.

3rd period, 17:12 left: Ryan Malone gets his stick up a little too high and hits Mikko Koivu in the face. Time to see how the American penalty killers hold up. The Finns are 0-for-1 on the power play today.

3rd period, 18:09 left: The Americans look incredibly sloppy on this power play. A couple turnovers at the blueline lead to odd-man rushes by Finland. On the first, Ryan Miller takes the shot right in the letters and knocks it aside. On the second, Erik Johnson manages to break up the pass.

3rd period, 19:38 left: We're under way again, and the U.S. is already going on a power play. How's this for a call? Patrick Kane loses a glove at the side of the Finnish net, and Niklas Backstrom knocks it aside with his stick... and gets called for interference. Knocking equipment out of the way is a no-no.

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End of the 2nd period: UNITED STATES 6, Finland 0 -- Good news for the Finns: they did not allow a goal in the second period.

As we mentioned in the first intermission, this game is all about the little things going forward. Or as the sign in the U.S. locker room reads, "Be brilliant in the basics." Brilliant might be a stretch, but fairly solid is an accurate description.

The Americans aren't putting out more effort than absolutely necessary, yet they're still making the effort to play their game. For the first half of the period, the U.S. had some trouble getting into the Finnish zone. Their passing got sloppy in the neutral zone. But they made the necessary corrections and showed pressure at the end of the period.

Defensively, the Americans are still protecting Ryan Miller as if he's playing without a cup.  They're breaking up rushes, blocking shots and clogging the middle. On Finnish rushes, you always see three dark blue jerseys in the mix. The only obvious lapses came on the Lydman spinning shot and on the Immonen shot off the post. On the latter, Ville Peltonen was able to park himself right in front of Miller, and no defenseman bothered to clear out the Finn.

The Americans need to get out of this period with another solid effort, few mistakes, and maybe a couple more goals just to keep them from feeling snakebitten going into the next game.


2nd period, 1:21 left: Jarkko Immonen winds up at the top of the left circle and puts a shot off the far post. That may have been the closest Finland has come to scoring a goal in this game.

2nd period, 2:24 left: Tony Lydman spins in the slot and fires a slap shot on Miller. The American defenseman gets it with his right pad and kicks it into the corner.

2nd period, 3:43 left: The crowd appears so bored by the game, they've resorted to doing the wave. We'd expect that from non-hockey markets, but Vancouver? Says something about the pace of this one...

2nd period, 7:22 left: The Americans aren't looking laxed on defense despite the score. Ryan Kesler gets twisted around and falls to the ice, but manages to break up a chance by Niklas Hagman. On Finland's next rush, Ryan Suter steps up on Olli Jokinen in the right corner and ends another potential opportunity.

2nd period, 8:18 left: The pace of this one has turned into that of a chess match. The Americans and Finns are even in shots this period, with five apiece.

2nd period, 12:01 left: Jarkko Ruutu charges the net looking for a rebound and falls onto Ryan Miller. Ryan Kesler tries to pull him off, and it leads to a scrum (by boring Olympic standards). Patrick Kane comes over to check out the situation, and takes a whack in the pads by Olli Jokinen. Jokinen then goes after Kane by putting him in a headlock. Size-wise, it is a total mismatch. Kind of makes you wonder how Kane took on a cabbie in Buffalo, no? Bobby Ryan and the referee finally get over to break it up. Ruutu ends up with a roughing minor and a 10 minute misconduct for his antics.

2nd period, 13:23 left: The Finns seem to be spending a lot more time in the American end, but the U.S. holds strong. They're still blocking shots and breaking up plays. Finland has just three shots on net in this period.

2nd period, 15:01 left: Teemu Selanne fires a quick snap shot on Miller, who knocks it aside with the blocker.

2nd period, 16:06 left: Gleason is back on the ice. ... The ice must be pretty horrible at this point. A few players have lost edges and hit the ice.

2nd period, 17:54 left: Tim Gleason takes a hard shot from Sami Lepisto right in the gut and crumples to the ice. The Americans clear the puck and Gleason makes it back to the bench.

2nd period, 19:51 left: We're under way in the second period. Going forward, unless this one becomes close, we'll probably focus on the "little" things the U.S. is doing to see how well they're tuning up for Sunday.  Don't worry, we'll keep feeding you the scoring updates.

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End of the 1st period: UNITED STATES 6, Finland 0 -- Well... with half a dozen on the board and a Finnish team that looks like it would rather be in the sauna, it might be safe to pencil in the Americans for the gold-medal game.  Because barring a meltdown of historic proportions, that's where they're headed.

The Americans haven't played to the tempo as they did against Canada or the Swiss. They've benefitted from a total collapse by Mikka Kiprusoff and his teammates. The first goal, is in large part Kiprusoff's fault, but he didn't receive much help from his defensemen, who were loafing along the boards. Kiprusoff didn't get much help, either, in having players cleared out from the front of his crease, and that led to a couple of penalties in trying to make up for the lack of effort earlier.  Then the Americans just poured it on.

Patrick Kane, who had just one goal prior to today's contest, has two already. After games, he often talked about there being another gear to kick into. He may have found it, and if he hasn't, he's at least gaining some confidence to find it for the next game.

Here's something scary: The Americans are outshooting the Finns 13-4. That's almost a shooting percentage of 50 percent (46.1 percent for all you math wonks). If all factors stay the same, we could be looking at a record blowout here. We'd like to think that won't happen, that the Finns have some pride to preserve.

So, what does the U.S. focus on at this point? To quote Herb Brooks, "Play your game. Play your game." The Americans need to keep the pressure on the Finns, even if they wave a white flag. That's the only way they're going to be prepared for what could potentially be one angry, bloodthirsty Canadian team.


1st period, :11 left: Brian Rafalski goes to make a hit on Finland's Valtteri Filppula, but ends up taking him out at the legs. Rafalski gets called for kneeing. The Finns go on their first power play of the game.

1st period, :38 left: Olli Jokinen gets past a suddenly lazy American defense. He takes a pass at the bottom of the right circle and gets a clear shot at Miller, who blocks it.

1st period, 2:00 left: The Finns have shown a little life. Not the kind that will get them to rally from a six-goal deficit, though.

1st period, 4:49 left: Teemu Selanne hasn't given up. At least not yet. The winger tries to stuff the puck past Ryan Miller on a wraparound. Seconds later, he chases down a puck behind the net, skates it to the left circle and fires off another shot.

1st period, 7:28 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 6, Finland 0 -- Is this the U.S. women vs. the Finnish women?  Paul Stastny roofs a wrist shot from the right circle. It is starting to look like the Finns have given up.

1st period, 7:43 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 5, Finland 0 -- So much for a goaltending change. Brian Rafalski breaks up a Finnish play in the neutral zone and feeds Patrick Kane, who carries it in on a 2-on-1 with Dustin Brown. Kane opts to shoot. It goes in for his second of the day.

1st period, 9:52 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 4, Finland 0 -- Patrick Kane brings the puck into the offensive zone. His first shot is kicked aside, but Niklas Hagman's clearing attempt ends right back onto Kane's stick. The winger holds the puck for a moment, pulling Kiprusoff to the top of the crease, and wrists it past him. That's it for Kiprusoff. He opts to pull himself from the net. Niklas Backstrom comes in.

1st period, 11:24 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 3, Finland 0 -- Kiprusoff opts to keep a puck dumped in by Joe Pavelski alive, and it costs him. Ryan Malone battles behind the net, and gets the puck to Pavelski, whose shot is kicked to the right faceoff circle. Defenseman Erik Johnson gets the rebound and fires it back for the goal. The Finns called time out.

1st period, 12:53 left: Dustin Brown draws another penalty, this time by taking a hit from behind by Tony Lydman along the left boards. The U.S. goes back on the power play.

1st period, 13:38 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 2, Finland 0 -- Paul Stastny collects the puck along the right goal line and feeds Zach Parise who is screeching toward the net. Parise wrists it over Kiprusoff as the netminder slides across.

1st period, 13:59 left: As Dustin Brown chases a puck into the offensive zone, Janne Niskala gets in his way to give Kiprusoff time to play the puck. Brown goes down and Niskala is headed to the box for interference.

1st period, 14:47 left: The Americans are sticking with their game of aggressively forechecking. Mikka Kiprusoff comes out to play the puck, and rushes the pass around the boards. Chris Drury picks it up on the right side, but can't convert it into a chance.

1st period, 17:56 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 1, Finland 0 -- Ryan Malone clears the puck out of the U.S. end, and it trickles into the Finnish zone. Mikka Kiprusoff comes out to the high slot to play, and with Phil Kessel pressuring, Kiprusoff puts it right on the stick of Malone, who is trailing the play. Malone fires it into the wide open net.

1st period, 19:49 left: We're under way in Vancouver. The start for the Americans is slower than in previous games. Both teams seem like they're feeling each other out. Brian Rafalski gets the first shot on net from just inside the blue line. It's an easy save for Kiprusoff.

Preview (2:35 p.m.): The IIHF has posted lines for today's game [pdf ]. For the Americans:

Zach Parise -Paul Stastny -Jamie Langenbrunner
Ryan Malone -Joe Pavelski -Phil Kessel
Dustin Brown -Ryan Kesler -Patrick Kane
Chris Drury -David Backes -Bobby Ryan

The defensive pairings:

Ryan Suter -Brian Rafalski
Tim Gleason -Erik Johnson
Jack Johnson -Brooks Orpik

Winger Ryan Callahan and defenseman Ryan Whitney will be rotated into the action.

And for the Finns:

Teemu Selanne -Saku Koivu -Jere Lehtinen
Tuomo Ruutu -Mikko Koivu -Valtteri Filppula
Niklas Hagman -Niko Kapanen -Antti Miettinen
Ville Peltonen -Olli Jokinen -Jarkko Ruutu

The defensive pairings:

Sami Salo -Kimmo Timonen
Joni Pitkanen -Toni Lydman
Sami Lepisto -Janne Niskala

Forward Jarkko Immonen and defenseman Lasse Kukkonen will also suit up for the Finns.

As expected, Ryan Miller will get the start for the U.S., while Mikka Kiprusoff will tend net for Finland.


Preview (11:00 a.m.): The United States looks to continue its improbable medal run when it faces off against Finland in the men's hockey semifinals.

Today is the first meeting between the teams in this tournament. Historically, the Americans are 6-3-2 against the Finns, but have dropped two of the last three meetings. The most recent came during the quarterfinals at the 2006 Olympics, when Finland trumped the U.S., 4-3.

The Finns, who grabbed the final quarterfinal bye, dispatched the Czech Republic with a hard-fought, 2-0 victory on Wednesday.

Mikka Kiprusoff made 31 saves for the shutout. Niklas Hagman broke the deadlock with less than seven minutes to play in regulation, and Valtteri Filppula secured the win with an empty-net goal.

The Americans defeated Switzerland, also by a score of 2-0, on Wednesday. Ryan Miller finished with 19 saves, while Zach Parise provided both third-period goals for the Americans.

Today's matchup is likely to end up as a goaltenders duel as it pits the top goaltenders of the Olympics against each other. Kiprusoff tops all netminders in save percentage (.947), while Miller leads in goals-against average (1.25).

The Finns play a hybrid style, combining the speed and finesse of the European hockey and the physical toughness of the North American game.

"They have great speed, they're a great transition team and a tough team," American defenseman Jack Johnson told USAHockey.com . "It's going to be a great game. There are no secrets or tricks or anything. Just two tough teams going at it."

One player to keep an eye on is Finland's Teemu Selanne . In Finland's 5-0 win over Germany in the preliminary round, he recorded an assist which gave him 37 career points in the Olympics, more than any other player. The 39-year-old says this will be his last tournament, and motivation to go out with a gold is significant. Selanne has won six medals in international competition, but never a gold.

We'll be sure to post lineups as soon as the IIHF makes them available for the game.

Be sure to check back at 3 p.m. for our live blog. We'll be covering the game from the puck drop to the final horn.






Posted on: February 24, 2010 8:55 am
Edited on: February 24, 2010 5:58 pm
 

Live Blog: United States vs. Switzerland

By Erin Brown

Postgame analysis: Team USA escapes a hard-fought battle against the underrated Swiss to move on to the semifinals. Ryan Miller records the first shutout for the Americans since 2002, when Mike Richter whitewashed the Germans, 5-0.

Positives: Miller remains at the top of his game, but much credit needs to be given to the defensive effort in front of him. There are no official statistics when it comes to shot blocking in this tournament, but it would be a fair bet to say the Americans are among the leaders if not the top team. Today alone, Team USA players blocked at least 25 shots. They're playing desperate hockey in their end. Late in the third period (as noted below), Erik Johnson completely dropped to the ice to stop a shot by Martin Pluss in the low slot. Miller didn't even have to move. It isn't often you see that kind of play so close to the netminder.

The Parise-Stastny-Langenbrunner line continues to outperform the rest of the team. The chemistry Parise and Langenbrunner display almost makes Stastny, an outstanding center in his own right, look like he's simply along for the ride. Stastny did seem to get more involved in the play as the game went on. That is sure to only continue as the tournament progresses.

Negatives: Consistency is still an issue for the Americans, who can't seem to put together a full 60 minutes. Lucky for them, they have not lapsed so much that it leads to a deficit on the scoreboard.

The Americans' third line of Kane, Kesler and Brown struggled to find the scoresheet yet again, but it wasn't for the lack of trying. The trio combined for 12 shots, but failed to get anything past goaltender Jonas Hiller. Either this line will turn out as a bust, or finally break through in the semifinals.

Looking Ahead: Team USA will face either the Czech Republic or Finland in the semifinals. The Americans are 0-2 all-time against the Czechs. Team USA is 6-2-3 against the Finns. Both losses have come in the medal round, the most recent being in 2006 when Finland ousted the U.S. in the quarterfinals en route to a silver medal.


Final: UNITED STATES 2, Switzerland 0 : Ryan Miller records the shutout with a 19-save effort, and Zach Parise provides the two goals for the United States. Switzerland's Jonas Hiller makes 42 saves in the loss.

3rd period, :11 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 2, Switzerland 0 : Zach Parise pokes a puck free in the defensive end and chases it into the Swiss zone. He fires into the empty net for his second of the game.

3rd period, 1:06 left: Chris Drury wins a battle along the right boards and flings the puck up ice. It slides just wide of the empty net.

3rd period, 1:43 left: The Americans catch a break when Paul Stastny trips up Roman Wick behind the net. The Swiss have called time out. They have pulled Hiller.

3rd period, 2:57 left: Martin Plus gets the puck alone in the low slot, and Erik Johnson slides across just in time to block the shot.

3rd period, 3:15 left: Down a goal, the Swiss are really turning it on now. They're sending four in on the rush.

3rd period, 4:55 left: Ryan Malone shoves a nice little backhand pass from the left boards to Joe Pavelski, who is in stride. Pavelski battles through two Swiss defenseman and gets a shot on Hiller, who covers up.

3rd period, 6:28 left: The Americans escape a scoring chance by the Swiss. Sandy Jeannin centers the puck, which slides through the top of the crease. No teammates are there to capitalize.

3rd period, 7:18 left: Switzerland's Luca Sbisa fires a slap shot from the top of the left circle. Ryan Miller makes a glove save and dives to cover it up before anyone can grab the rebound.

3rd period, 9:48 left: Although it does not seem like the U.S. is shooting as frequently as they did in the first period, they seem to be back in control of the pace of this contest. Each line seems to be getting at least two or three good plays on each shift, whether it be coming up with the puck after a battle along the boards, getting in the passing lanes during a Swiss breakout or just grinding in front of the net.

3rd period, 11:15 left: Switzerland's Luca Sbisa must not be hurting too much. He just slammed David Backes into the boards.

3rd period, 12:40 left: Brian Rafalski has a shot blocked in the slot. Zach Parise skates in to pick up the loose puck and shoots one off the post. Moments later, Swiss netminder Jonas Hiller turns over the puck in front of the net, but Ryan Kesler is unable to capitalize on the chance.

3rd period, 14:10 left: The Americans' penalty kill continues to impress. They're blocking shots left and right, sometimes coming up a little hobbled. Chris Drury takes one in the gut, and moments later, Tim Gleason gets a slap shot to the ankle.

3rd period, 16:15 left: No goal. No goal. Sandy Jeannin moves toward the net and pulls Miller out of his crease. He fires the puck, which hits the far post and pops back out. On the ensuing play, the Americans score on a shot from the left circle, but Ryan Kesler is called for high-sticking while parked in front of the net. The video review confirms the Swiss shot did not cross the goal line. In the end, the Americans are still up 1-0, but the Swiss are now on a power play. That was one crazy sequence of events.

3rd period, 17:52 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 1, Switzerland 0 : Brian Rafalski fires a shot from the high slot. The puck hits Hiller in the chest, Parise reaches around the goaltender from the right side and taps it in. Give credit to Jamie Langenbrunner on that play. He battled a Swiss defenseman right in front, leaving Parise untouched on the play.

3rd period, 18:04 left: Ryan Malone gets a shot from the left circle. Phil Kessel sweeps across the front of the crease, kicking the rebound to his stick. As Kessel is tripped up, he shoots and hits the outside of the net. Philippe Furrer gets called for the trip.

3rd period, 19:15 left: We're under way. The Stastny line begins the period and go right on the attack. Less than a minute in, and the Americans are already looking more intense than they did in the second period.

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End of 2nd period: UNITED STATES 0, Switzerland 0: The Americans appeared to have dealt the Swiss a backbreaker at the end of the period, but time was not on their side. Too bad, because Team USA did not put forth an effort anywhere close to what they did in the first, and a lucky break may have given them a boost heading into the third.

The question is what this last-second development does for the Swiss. They didn't change much offensively, but they were downright impenetrable in the second period. Hiller continues to play at the top of his game, and escapes a gaffe in the process. That has only got to motivate Switzerland heading into the final period.

Which means the U.S. has no choice but to make some adjustments and overpower Switzerland with the show of force they displayed in the first period. Even though the Americans outshot the Swiss 14-4 in the second, they were not in control of the pace of the game, and they really struggled to get anything going on the power play.

Team USA's top line of Parise, Stastny and Langenbrunner continues to shine. They're getting the best chances, in part because they're grinding for the puck. The reunion of Parise and Langenbrunner -- often linemates in New Jersey -- is making a difference. They just need to capitalize on their chances.

The Americans have 20 minutes to find their game and get some goals on the board. Otherwise, if this goes to overtime and potentially a shootout, they risk turning an improbably run at these Olympics into a forgettable one.

2nd period, :01 left: GOAL? Jonas Hiller juggles a puck as time expires, and whacks it over his shoulder. The puck ends up in the net, but does not cross the line before time expires.

2nd period, :48 left: Another Swiss defenseman to keep an eye out for: Mathias Seger. The defenseman got tied up with Zach Parise and went into the boards hard. He left the ice with a potential right leg injury.

2nd period, 2:44 left: Ryan Suter fires a blast from the left point. Ryan Malone is in front and attempts to tip the puck, but misses. Hiller grabs the puck with his glove and stops play.

2nd period, 3:23 left: A strong effort by the Americans to keep the puck in the zone leads to a scramble in front of Hiller. Chris Drury and Dustin Brown are unable to slip one past the Swiss netminder.

2nd period, 5:15 left: As Bobby Ryan brings the puck into the zone, he's checked and upended by Switzerland's Mathias Seger. Once again, the Swiss are denied on the man advantage.

2nd period, 6:47 left: The Swiss are absolutely clogging the middle on the power play. With the puck in the neutral zone, Hnat Domenichelli comes out of the box giving the Swiss a 3-on-1. Erik Johnson makes a sprawling stick check in the slot to break up the play. Domenichelli gets called for a hook. Another power play for the Americans.

2nd period, 8:42 left: Paul Stastny finds Jamie Langenbrunner trailing the play on a break. Langenbrunner takes a shot from the right circle, just as he's being tripped up. Hiller gets his glove on the puck, which falls a few inches shy of the goal line. Hnat Domenichelli is headed to the box for the trip.

2nd period, 10:44 left: Julien Sprunger makes a nice move to get around a U.S. player and gets a shot on Miller from the left circle. The American goaltender covers up.

2nd period, 12:05 left: An outstanding effort by the Swiss on the penalty kill. The Americans try to carry the puck into the zone, but the Swiss stack three on the blueline and break up their attempts to enter the zone. The U.S. fails to get a shot on net.

2nd period, 13:32 left: Paul Stastny centers the puck to Zach Parise, who is breaking toward the net. Parise is pulled down by Raffaele Sannitz. The Americans go on their first power play.

2nd period, 15:10 left: The Swiss don't get set up in the zone until the final 30 seconds of the power play, and when they do, they don't get any shots on net. The American players throw their bodies in front of the pucks and block about for attempts on the kill. Actually, the Swiss are still looking for their first shot in this period.

2nd period, 17:10 left: The Americans' second line of Ryan Malone, Joe Pavelski and Phil Kessel get a couple opportunities on a scramble in front of the net, but they are unable to stuff it past Hiller. Moments later, Malone gets called for roughing, giving the Swiss their second power play of the game.

2nd period, 18:18 left: Luca Sbisa is back on the ice for the Swiss. A really good point from the commentators: Sbisa is probably playing in pain. In the NHL, where players might be able to get medication to numb the pain, they may not be able to get the same treatment because of the anti-doping policy of the IOC.

2nd period, 19:11 left: We're under way. Not much action, just a couple of icing calls on the Swiss.

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End of 1st period: UNITED STATES 0, Switzerland 0 - It is pretty hard to complain about the Americans' effort in the first period. They've dominated in every aspect of the game except for the score.

Offensively, the U.S. is outshooting Switzerland 18-4. If not for the outstanding play of Jonas Hiller, this game could be out of reach. But even Hiller is showing some holes in his game. The Swiss netminder is dropping to the ice rather quickly, and opening up the top half of the net to shoot at. The Americans don't need to adjust much in regards to their attack, but aiming higher may lead to some goals. And by the looks of their efforts at the end of the first period, they are starting to do that.

Defensively, the Swiss haven't had many opportunities. The Americans are playing much better in their own end compared to the first game and limiting the odd-man rushes. The couple of times the Swiss appear to be on the verge of a 2-on-1, it ends up being a 3-on-2 in the Americans' favor as players are dashing back to help their defense and Miller.

The Swiss are buzzing in the Americans' end, but they don't have much to show for it. At least half of the Swiss shots were ones Miller saw all the way. As in the first game, Switzerland is in a bind. They can't afford to neglect their defense because that will only lead to more opportunities for the Americans. But they need to be a little more aggressive in the U.S. end. If the talent-laden Canadians couldn't beat Miller with 40-plus shots, the Swiss sure aren't going to with fewer than 15.

1st period, :34 left: Stastny steals the puck from Switzerland's Thomas Deruns along the left boards, and quickly passes to Jamie Langenbrunner, who is rushing past. Langenbrunner gets the puck to Parise, whose shot is turned aside by Hiller.

1st period, 2:55 left: Joe Pavelski picks off a Swiss pass in the neutral zone, which leads to a 3-on-2 for the Americans. Pavelski dishes to Kessel, who rings a shot off the right post.

1st period, 5:49 left: The Americans are outshooting the Swiss, 14-4, but most of the U.S. shots are along the ice. So far, Hiller has been a brick wall below the waist.

1st period, 7:56 left: Miller snags a shot by Switzerland's Sandy Jeannin with his glove. After the faceoff, Zach Parise breaks into the Swiss zone on a 2-on-1 with Jamie Langenbrunner. Defenseman Philippe Furrer drops to the ice and breaks up the pass.

1st period, 9:15 left: Seems the U.S. is falling into its dangerous habit of allowing defensement to pinch. Team USA moves the puck through the neutral zone, and its defenseman Erik Johnson who alone, carrying it along the blue line.

1st period: 11:30 left: In the waning seconds of the Swiss power play, Hiller turns over the puck behind his net, which leads to Ryan Kesler setting up Zach Parise, who is alone in the slot. Hiller gets back to the net to make the save.

1st period, 12:23 left: The Swiss get some nice puck movement and a few good looks early on the power play. They are unable to connect though.

1st period, 13:33 left: Switzerland goes on the power play after Ryan Callahan is called for hooking.

1st period, 14:20 left: The Swiss have lost defenseman Luca Sbisa to what appears to be a finger injury after blocking a shot with his hand. Sbisa is headed back to the locker room. His ring and middle finger are bloodied.

1st period, 15:45 left: Jamie Langenbrunner and Zach Parise show off a little of their Devils chemistry. Langenbrunner takes advantage of a Swiss player having to leave the ice because of a lost lid, taking a pass at the right side of the crease. Hiller is there to protect the net, so Langenbrunner sends it behind the net to Parise, who spins and tries to backhand it past Hiller on the left side. Hiller makes the save.

1st period, 17:20 left:
The Americans have their first test on defense as the Swiss appear to break out in a 2-on-1 as they cross the neutral zone. Brian Rafalski and Joe Pavelski hustle back to defend, breaking it up.

1st period, 18:13 left: Kesler picks up a reboumd in front of the Swiss net, but is unable to bury it while Hiller is slightly out of position. THe Americans already have five shots on net.

1st period, 19:57 left: We're under way in Vancouver, and Team USA is already attacking. Stastny gets the first shot on net, which Hiller covers.

Preview (3:05 p.m.): Today's lines for the Americans:

Zach Parise -Paul Stastny -Jamie Langenbrunner
Ryan Malone -Joe Pavelski -Phil Kessel
Dustin Brown -Ryan Kesler -Patrick Kane
Chris Drury -David Backes -Ryan Callahan

Bobby Ryan will be rotated into the lines.

As for defensive pairings:

Ryan Suter -Brian Rafalski
Tim Gleason -Erik Johnson
Jack Johnson -Brooks Orpik
Ryan Whitney

Ryan Miller gets the start again.

Preview (8:55 a.m.):
Today the United States faces Switzerland in the opening match of the medal round quarterfinals. The winner advances to face the winner of the Finland-Czech Republic game, which will be played tonight.

This is a rematch of the Group A teams, which skated to a 3-1 U.S. victory last Tuesday. Bobby Ryan , David Backes and Ryan Malone scored for the Americans, and goaltender Ryan Miller made 14 saves in the win. Roman Wick , who leads the Swiss contingent with five points (two goals, three assists) in this tournament, scored the lone goal for Switzerland.

The Swiss have shown improvement since their first game, thanks in part to a confidence-building shootout loss to the Canadians on Feb. 18.

Switzerland is playing the second of back-to-back games. The Swiss defeated Belarus, 3-2, in a shootout on Tuesday to avoid qualify for the medal round. Romano Lemm provided the decisive goal, while Jonas Hiller , who stopped 20 shots during regulation, turned away two of three shootout attempts by the Belarussians.

The United States, meanwhile, is well-rested after a huge victory over Canada on Sunday. The American won 5-3 for their first Olympic win over their northern rival in half a century.

Miller was the story of that game, stopping 42 shots, 14 in the final period alone. Team USA's veteran Olympians provided the scoring. Defenseman Brian Rafalski scored twice, and Chris Drury and Jamie Langenbrunner had one goal apiece. Ryan Kesler sealed the win with a highlight-reel empty net goal.

Despite the undefeated start and a their upset of the Canadians, GM Brian Burke feels his squad can improve.

"I'm not happy with the way we’ve played to this point," Burke told USAHockey.com . "We need all hands on deck. We have 10 guys carrying us, in my opinion."

Burke did not single out any specific players, but he may be referring to Dustin Brown and Paul Stastny , the only two forwards who have been kept off the scoresheet, or defenseman Ryan Whitney , the only blueliner with a minus rating.

Or he may be taking a page from the playbook of the late Herb Brooks, Team USA's coach in 1980, who often focused on his squad's faults after seemingly decisive wins.

"I think Burke wants to keep us where we need to be, which is appropriately paranoid," Miller said. "Beating Canada wasn't the goal when we came here. It's to beat any team in our way. So we have to reset and reevaluate and give ourselves an honest evaluation and move forward."

The key for the United States is to play the physically aggressive, defensively conservative game they did against Canada. In their last meeting with Switzerland, the Americans thrived when they were able to knock the Swiss off the puck, and that often led to scoring chances. In their own end, when Team USA's defenseman got too caught up in the offense, the Swiss usually responded with an odd-man rush.

As for the lines, we'll have those as soon as they are made available.

Be sure to check back at 3 p.m. as we'll have all the action, from the drop of the puck until the final buzzer.

Posted on: February 19, 2010 3:48 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2010 3:59 pm
 

Gearing up for Sunday's border battle

The United States and Canada are peaceful neighbors, sharing the world's longest undefended border. When it comes to the sport of ice hockey, however, there is no love between the North American rivals. It is flat-out war.

While Canada boasts more championships in its history, the competition between the two nations has become heated in recent years  because of frequent matchups at other levels, such as the World Junior Championship and Women's World Championship.

Sunday marks the first Olympic meeting between the countries since the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Canadians won 3-2 to clinch the gold medal.

CBSSports.com's Erin Brown and Derek Fobe cast aside all objectivity and preview the contest from an unabashedly patriotic standpoint. Be sure to join Erin and Derek Sunday night at 7 p.m. for a live chat during the game.


Why will the United States/Canada win?

Erin Brown: The Americans are going to win because nobody expects us to. Canada came into this tournament with the goal -- no, wait, expectation -- to come away with the gold medal. The Canadians are looking ahead, and showed exactly that during their game against the Swiss. The Americans may not have the deepest talent pool, but we've got a few flashy players, too, and we fill out the rest of the roster with blue collar grinders ready to hit you upside the head with their lunch pails. In Olympic and World Championship play, the Americans have defeated the Canadians just five times. OK, so the numbers don't exactly favor us. But four of those wins were one-goal games. Close battles are usually very ugly, and we've got just the kind of team to get the job done. Oh yeah, and as far as we know, there are no stupid loonies embedded in the ice.

Derek Fobe: The Canadians are going to win going away because Mike Richter is not dressed for this contest, which I assure you is of immense relief to all Canadians. If the U.S. did call on the former Ranger Sunday night, there would be 19,000+ very nervous Canadians jammed inside Canada Hockey Place whispering Richter's name with Ogie Oglethorpe-like reverence. Since Richter, to my knowledge, is not playing, the U.S. will continue to give away odd-man rushes and Ryan Miller will understand very quickly that the Canadian forwards do not play for teams such as Davos or Stavanger. Canada will score early, loud and often and the Americans will wonder if there is a 'Quick' solution they can turn to if and when they play the Canadian Red Machine again in the medal round. Expect the U.S. to look to abandon the running game early in this one as they fall behind by more than a touchdown. Miller Time will come early (and with a baseball cap!) for at least one member of the Miller family.


How the United States/Canada could conceivably pull off the upset?

Erin Brown: For the Canadians to win, they just have to walk the walk. There's no denying the talent they boast. They've got veterans. They've got loads of game-breakers. They've got players who have consistently performed in pressure situations. Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman even found a way to circumvent the lack of chemistry Olympic teams face by building a roster of players already familiar with each other. Even their coaching staff is unbelievable. And as if that weren't enough, they're playing at home, a hockey-mad country that could see its population skyrocket in nine months if they actually win gold. How on Earth do you compete with that? Maybe the reality is that you don't.

Derek Fobe: Canada has assembled an incredible array of tremendously skilled, offensive firepower. Notice I didn't use the word "team" in that sentence. There are no third or fourth liners on this squad. If defensive mastermind Bob Gainey was in his prime, he would not be selected -- ditto for Alex Burrows. This is an All-Star squad through and through and we saw that type of "All-Star team" dysfunction against the meager Swiss squad Thursday night. The best way for the U.S. team to succeed is to play inspired Team USA hockey. Bring a gritty, hard-hitting performance and use their speed mismatches of their forwards to cause windburn sensations past the likes of old vets Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. An outstanding Richter-like goaltending performance will undoubtedly also be necessary. Maybe someday Canadians will speak of Miller in hushed tones as they do of Richter.


Who's the hero?

Erin Brown: When the Americans beat Canada, they'll all be heroes. If I had to pick just one, though, I'm going with Minnesota's own David Backes. Leading up to the Winter Games, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound winger beat up three members of the Canadian team -- Jonathan Toews, Corey Perry and Rick Nash. He's having a great tournament thus far, with a highlight-reel game-winning goal in Team USA's opener versus Switzerland and an assist against the Norwegians. He's a fourth-liner, but has embraced his role more than anyone at this point. He's playing with the kind of passion that embodies the American hockey mentality. Herb Brooks would be proud.

Derek Fobe: When the Canadians win, the hero will be Sidney Crosby. Yeah, I know the obvious choice. But hey, like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Bobby Orr the best players perform on the biggest and loudest stage. There could not have been more pressure on him than on Thursday when he was selected for the shootout a second time, having just missed minutes earlier. Crosby was clutch and buried it. As Don Cherry might say to someone who would NOT pick Crosby to be the hero, "You don't know 'cause you don't know!"


Who's the goat?

Erin Brown: Martin Brodeur. He is arguably the best goaltender to play professional hockey, but how long can the Canadians ride this horse? Brodeur may have been a big-game goaltender earlier in his career, but since winning the Stanley Cup in 2003, he is 14-22 in postseason games and has won just two series. And don't forget that last-minute collapse against Carolina last postseason.

Derek Fobe: USA's gaggle of superstar forwards. They look like at times as if they want to pass the puck into the net. Someone (besides Mr. Backes) has to grab the biscuit and fire it into the net.


What "patriotic" song would you pump up the guys with?

Erin Brown: It isn't part of the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry (yet), but I'm going with Metallica's "Don't Tread on Me ." It is the motto on the Gadsden Flag, originally used by the United States Marine Corps in the late 1700s. The song itself refers to the American Revolutionary War (you know, Canada, when we kicked out the monarchy that still watches over you) and cites Patrick Henry's famous quote, "give me liberty or give me death." The tune bleeds aggression and makes you want to go out and hit someone. Rumor has it many of our soldiers overseas have this tune on their iPod and that it was a popular tune before going on patrol. That's motivational, right?

Derek Fobe: Breaking out the Marines eh?! Well, I'm going to go with Canada's own Guess Who and their rockin' "American Woman." The popular misconception is that it is a chauvinistic tune, but the song actually refers to the Statue of Liberty as an "American Woman ".  It has a decidedly anti-war theme -- "I don't need your war machines." What better time and place to waive "bye-bye" to Team USA and their gold medal dreams of hockey domination than Earth-friendly, peace-loving Vancouver, British Columbia? Maybe our friends in Quebec can add a "Da Na Naaa Naaaa" in front of it for artistic merit. Oh, those crazy Quebecers are clutch like that! (And since Erin broke out the "monarchy" line. Here's some trivia: Who was the last foreign power to occupy the United States capital? Quick hint: it rhymes with Canada.)

Erin Brown: Ahem, the War of 1812 was against Great Britain. Canada wasn't even a country then!

Derek Fobe: Wanna go?

Erin Brown: Yeah.

Remember to drop by Sunday at 7 p.m. for our live chat during the United States-Canada men's hockey game. Gloves and sticks optional.


Posted on: February 18, 2010 12:09 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2010 7:04 pm
 

Live Blog: United States vs. Norway

By Erin Brown

Postgame Analysis: Two games, two wins. Now the real test begins. The United States faces Canada on Sunday, and lucky for the Americans, there are still a two days in between to practice.

Positives: Team USA's first, second and checking lines completely gelled in this game. The trio of Ryan Malone, Joe Pavelski and Phil Kessel stood out above all others. And a lot can be said for the effort given by Chris Drury. He entered the game as the United States' 13th forward and wedged his way permanently onto the team's fourth line. Drury excelled in all the little things required of role players, from grinding to backchecking. His goal and added ice time was a reward for a job well done.

Negatives: Defense is still a weakness for the Americans. Team USA's defensemen got too involved with the offense at times, leaving gaping holes along the blueline. Most, if not all, of the United States' blueliners are offensively minded. They'll need to change that mentality against Canada to avoid giving up odd-man rushes. They continued to be a problem for the Americans against Norway, one of which resulted in a shorthanded goal.

As mentioned between periods, Jamie Langenbrunner's role is a headscratcher. He's been outplayed by everyone on Team USA's fourth line. Coach Ron Wilson pulled him in the final minutes of the game, opting to double-shift Patrick Kane alongside Ryan Kesler and Dustin Brown. It is doubtful Kane will remain there, but it makes one wonder if changes are in store.

Looking ahead: Next up for the Americans is Canada, one of the favorites to win this tournament. The United States is 2-10-3 all-time against Canada in Olympic competition. Team USA's last victory over the Canadians came in 1960, the year the United States won its first gold in the sport. Even with NHLers at their disposal, the Americans may need yet another miracle to pull off an upset.

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Final: United States 6, Norway 1 -- And that's the game. Brian Rafalski registers two third-period goals in the rout. Joe Pavelski and Zach Parise finish with two assists apiece. Ryan Miller finishes with 10 saves.

3rd Period, :36 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 6, Norway 1 -- Off the faceoff, Ryan Suter slides the puck across to Rafalski, who blasts the puck through a Joe Pavelski screen and Grotnes.

3rd Period, 1:31 left: Something worth noting in looking ahead... Ryan Kesler's line is on the ice, but Jamie Langenbrunner is not. He's been replaced by Patrick Kane for now.

3rd Period, 3:00 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 5, Norway 1 -- A well-fought battle along the boards leads to Zach Parise skating the puck behind the net and feeding Brian Rafalski in the right circle. Rafalski one-times the puck under Grotnes' right pad for a power play tally.

3rd Period, 3:58 left: Tommy Jakobsen checks Bobby Ryan behind Norway's net, dropping the American forward to the ice. He'll go off for high-sticking. Team USA goes on the power play.

3rd Period, 4:46 left: Joe Pavelski and Phil Kessel nearly re-enact their first period goal. Pavelski catches Kessel with a pass in mid-stride. Kessel skates across the front of the net, trying to get Grotnes to open the five-hole, but he is unable to do so and the Norwegian goaltender makes the save.

3rd Period, 5:41 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 4, Norway 1 -- Jack Johnson weaves through two Norwegian players along the right boards as if they're cones, and fires a shot toward the top far corner. Grotnes gets his blocker on the puck, but Ryan Malone is there to knock in the rebound.

3rd Period, 11:25 left: Another pat on the back for Chris Drury, who grinds with David Backes behind the Norwegian net. Drury takes a check and is still able to dump the puck to Bobby Ryan at the top of the left circle. Ryan gets a clean shot on net. For a guy who was the subject of a lot of criticism for making this team, Drury is sure earning his ice time.

3rd Period, 13:42 left: The Norwegians nearly pull within one when Martin Roymark bumps Brooks Orpik in the corner, forcing a turnover. Mats Zuccarello skates in along the goal line and fails to force a puck past Miller.

3rd Period, 15:14 left: Paul Stastny picks off a Norwegian clearing pass in the slot, and backhands to Patrick Kane at the right side of the net. Kane has all the time and space he needs, but Grotnes doesn't give him any openings to shoot at.

3rd Period, 16:42 left: Ryan Kesler forces a turnover in the neutral zone, which leads to a shorthanded 2-on-1. Jamie Langenbrunner carries up ice and tries to feed Kesler, who is cutting to the net, but puts the puck a little too far in front.

3rd Period, 17:30 left: Jack Johnson's stick gets caught between the legs of Norway's Patrick Thoresen. The American defenseman will go off for tripping.

3rd Period, 18:22 left: The early part of this period has a similar feel to that of the first. It is still too early to tell if they've found their game again.

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End of the 2nd Period: UNITED STATES 3, Norway 1 -- The Americans have a two-goal lead, but loads of things to fix in the third period.

Odd-man rushes continue to be a problem. Defensemen are pinching a little too much, and sometimes getting too involved in the offense. Ryan Miller is having to make way more big saves than he should in this game.

It might be time for Ron Wilson to re-consider Jamie Langenbrunner as his third-line winger. We'll give him a pass on the Norwegian goal since it was a lost edge that led him to fall behind on the backcheck.

Drury is having a much stronger game and quickly becoming a fixture on the team's fourth line. But that results in either Bobby Ryan or Ryan Callahan sitting. What Wilson should think about doing is making Langenbrunner the 13th forward, bumping Ryan to the third line and keeping Callahan and Drury -- teammates, and often linemates, in New York -- on Backes' line.

2nd Period, 3:23 left: The Americans seem to be relying on the big guns on the blueline to force pucks through. The problem is, it seems they are relying on this a little too much, and too many times the puck is bouncing out of the zone.

2nd Period, 5:41 left: Team USA is getting back to its system of crashing the net. Once again, its the Pavelski line doing the grinding and working to get the garbage goal.

2nd Period, 8:15 left: The Norwegian goal has fired up the Americans, who are back on the attack with a vengeance. Team USA goes back to peppering Grotnes, and pick up the pace. That leads to Alexander Bonsaksen picking up a charging penalty.

2nd Period, 11:23 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 3, Norway 1 -- A 4-on-2 for the American leads to a missed opportunity and an odd-man rush in the opposite direction for Norway. Marius Holtet picks up the puck in the right corner and carries it all the way down the ice before teeing-up a shot from the right circle and putting it off the far post and in.

2nd Period, 11:34 left: Norway's Tore Vikingstad takes a terrible penalty, clotheslining Brian Rafalski behind Team USA's net. That leads to another power play for the U.S.

2nd Period, 12:15 left: Chris Drury earns a little more ice time on the fourth line. He's out there in place of Rangers teammate Ryan Callahan and crashes the net for another chance.

2nd Period, 14:28 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 3, Norway 1 -- And the Americans' top line comes through. Patrick Kane feeds Zach Parise on a give-and-go. Parise fires a shot from the left circle. Grotnes gets the shot, but kicks the rebound to the right. Kane blows past the Norwegian defenseman tap the loose puck into the open net.

2nd Period, 16:43 left: The Norwegians are having a hard time even getting into the American zone, let alone keep it there to set up scoring opportunities. Team USA has clogged up the neutral zone well on this kill.

2nd Period, 17:31 left: David Backes gets his stick up on Kristian Forsberg, leading to a penalty. Norway goes on its first power play.

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End of the 1st Period: UNITED STATES 2, Norway 0 -- The Americans are in complete control of this game, from the score to the shots to the pace. Defense is still an issue for Team USA, as Norway's three scoring chances have come on odd-man rushes. This was a problem for the Americans in their first game and something they'll need to have fixed before they face Canada.

Team USA is looking much better chemistry-wise. The Malone-Pavelski-Kessel line has really come into its own in this game, with Pavelski being the playmaking catalyst. The Parise-Stastny-Kane trio continues to move the puck well. Even the Backes line, which is seeing some minor changes to get Chris Drury into the action is hustling and working well.

The Langenbrunner-Kesler-Brown line had a couple shots on a shift midway through the period, but we've yet to see them really come together yet.

Although the pace favors the Americans, it seems as if they're not playing full speed. Maybe it just feels that way because they've got so much space and time to work with. If they;re sacrificing pace for chemistry, that's fine for now, but I would expect Wilson to prod them to pick it up in the next two periods.

1st Period, :18 left: The Americans get some good puck movement and a couple shots on the power play. They are unable to convert any chances.

1st Period, 2:26 left: Brian Rafalski fires a shot from the high slot, which Paul Stastny tries to tip. The center is unable to do so and hacks at Grotnes, looking for a rebound. After play is whistled, Mats Zuccarello cross-checks Stastny in the back. Zuccarrello heads to the box. The Americans go on their second power play of the game.

1st Period, 4:40 left: The U.S. defense gets caught too high in the neutral zone when David Backes turns over the puck. That leads to a 2-on-1 for the Norwegians. Kristian Forsberg sends a cross-ice pass to Lars Spets, who is stopped by Miller.

1st Period, 5:26 left: Brian Rafalski pinches up and finds Zach Parise with a pass along the goal line. Parise skates in and tries to get Grotnes to open up space along the ice, but the Norwegian netminder stands his ground.

1st Period, 6:56 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 2, Norway 0 -- David Backes hustles back to the point to keep a puck inside the zone, and quickly dishes to Ryan Callahan in the slot. Callahan's shot is blocked by Grotnes, but Chris Drury sweeps in to poke in the loose puck.

1st Period, 8:54 left: The Norwegians kill off the penalty, and a solid effort by former NHLer Patrick Thorsesen leads to some time in the American zone. Mats Zuccarello fights off a check along the right boards, spins out and feeds Jonas Anderson on the far side of the crease. Ryan Miller slides across in time to make the save.

1st Period, 10:10 left: Norway's Tore Vikingstad is headed to the box for holding Ryan Malone's stick. The Americans go on their first power play of the game.

1st Period, 11:32 left: Ryan Kessler carries the puck through the offensive zone on his backhand, protecting it as he fends off two Norwegian players. He's able to dish off a pass to Jamie Langenbrunner, who crashes the net but is unable to redirect it into the net.

1st Period, 13:25 left: The Malone-Pavelski-Kessel line is off to a solid start. Aside from teaming up for the first goal, they're doing a great job getting loose pucks and setting up scoring chances. On their last shift, Pavelski skated over to the left boards and quickly shoveled a pass to Malone, who was parked in front of the net. Malone managed to get a stick on it, but the puck hit the crossbar.

1st Period, 15:29 left: The Americans are already peppering Grotnes with shots, which is a good sign. Team USA is outshooting Norway 7-1 at this point. The pace seems a little slower than the Switzerland game, though.

1st Period, 17:21 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 1, Norway 0 -- Joe Pavelski quickly backhands a loose puck to Phil Kessel, who is in full stride and alone when he hits the blue line. Kessel winds up at the right faceoff circle and fires a blast past Pal Grotnes, far side.

1st Period, 19:59 left: We're under way in Vancouver.

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Pregame (1:55 p.m.): The IIHF has posted lineups for today's game. [pdf ]  The biggest change for Team USA is on the bench. Goaltender Jonathan Quick replaces Tim Thomas as the backup netminder.

Lines for the Americans are the same, but in case you missed the combinations from the last game...

Zach Parise - Paul Stastny - Patrick Kane
Ryan Malone - Joe Pavelski - Phil Kessel
Jamie Langenbrunner - Ryan Kesler - Dustin Brown
Ryan Callahan - David Backes - Bobby Ryan

And the defensive pairings...

Ryan Suter - Brian Rafalski
Erik Johnson - Ryan Whitney
Jack Johnson - Brooks Orpik

Ryan Miller will start in net. Forward Chris Drury and defenseman Tim Gleason are also in the lineup and will be rotated into the action.

For Norway, goaltender Ruben Smith will back up Pal Grones . Defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen is in the lineup.


Pregame (Noon): Hello (Olympic) hockey fans! Today, the United States faces Norway in its second game of the 2010 Winter Games.

This is the fifth time the teams will face off in Olympic competition. The United States holds a 3-0-1 record against the Norwegians, outscoring them 14-9. Today marks their first game since 1988, when Team USA won 6-3.

The Americans opened the tournament with a 3-1 triumph over Switzerland on Tuesday. Bobby Ryan , David Backes and Ryan Malone provided the scoring for the U.S. Goaltender Ryan Miller made 14 saves for the win. He nearly registered a shutout, but a shot awkwardly tipped off his stick and into the net for Switzerland's lone goal.

Norway enters this contest looking to salvage some pride after a 8-0 whitewash by the host Canadians. The Norwegians managed just 15 shots against Canada. Pal Grotnes and Andre Lysenstoen split time in net and allowed four goals apiece.

The Norwegians are far from a hockey powerhouse. This is their first appearance at the Olympic Games since 1994, and they have battled in recent years to remain in the IIHF's top pool of international teams. Detroit Red Wings defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen is the lone NHLer on their squad. He missed Norway's opener due to a family illness and is expected to be in the lineup today.

This game will serve as Team USA's final contest before they face the heavily favored Canadians on Sunday. Given Norway's lack of elite talent, the Americans have to avoid playing to the Norwegians' level. That is likely a concern of coach Ron Wilson , whose squad includes three former Olympians and 19 players under the age of 30.

So what does the United States need to focus on? They need to follow Wilson's bash-and-crash system to perfection. When Team USA did so against Switzerland, it resulted in goals. The Americans' top line of Zach Parise , Paul Stasny and Patrick Kane , which showed signs of clicking in their first game, need to show they can finish. The defensive pairings have to bond very quickly. Team Norway shouldn't pose much of a threat offensively, but the defense needs to perform flawlessly and limit odd-man rushes.

We expect the lines and defensive pairings for the Americans will remain the same, but we will post that information as soon as it becomes available.

Be sure to check back at 3 p.m. as we'll be covering the game from the drop of the puck until the final buzzer.

Posted on: February 16, 2010 2:51 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2010 5:38 pm
 

Live Blog: United States vs. Switzerland

By Erin Brown

Postgame analysis: A win is a win. For a team that is not considered a medal favorite, the United States had a decent showing in their Olympic opener. And really, that's all they needed.

In judging the Americans' performance, throw out the first period. With 18 players making their Olympic debut and a group trying to develop chemistry quickly, nerves and rust were expected from Team USA.

Positives: Ryan Callahan, David Backes and Bobby Ryan followed coach Ron Wilson's gritty, physical system to perfection. They wore down the Swiss in their own end and capitalized on it with their offensive prowess. That may not work as well against elite teams like Russia or Canada down the road, but the fact they were able to get the system working so quickly will only benefit the Americans.

Negatives: The Americans need to spend more time on its defense in practice on Wednesday. The U.S. allowed several odd-man rushes to the defensively minded Swiss. With defensemen getting crossed-up often, Ryan Miller played at the top of his crease more frequently. Miller tends to be at his best when he's back in the net, and he only does that when the defense in front of him is clicking.

Looking ahead: Team USA faces Norway on Thursday. The Norwegians are far from a hockey powerhouse. They're back in the Olympics for the first time since 1994. Like a typical college football opener, this will be like a tuneup for the Americans. It will give their top trio of Patrick Kane, Paul Stastny and Zach Parise a chance to build upon the offensive flashes they displayed against Switzerland. The only concern is that playing Norway before facing Canada on Sunday could be too light of a matchup and not prepare the Americans well enough. Simply put, Team USA needs an absolute flawless performance on Thursday.

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Final: United States 3, Switzerland 1 - And that's it for Team USA's opener. The Americans improve to 7-1-0 all-time against the Swiss in Olympic competition.

3rd Period, 2:04 left: The game has become a battle of dump-and-chase, with neither team having much success keeping it in the opposing end.

3rd Period, 5:50 left: The Americans haven't matched the effort they showed during the second period, but they're looking better in compared to the start of this period. They're starting to get back into their attack mode, and Ryan Callahan sets up David Backes with a one-handed, backhand pass. Backes shoots wide.

3rd Period, 6:39 left: How's this for a good luck charm? 1980 Team USA captain Mike Eruzione is at today's game. Poor guy looks like he's been signing autographs all afternoon long...

3rd Period, 10:15 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 3, Switzerland 1 - Switzerland's Roman Wick leads a charge up ice, centering the puck to Hnat Domenichelli. Ryan Miller moves to the top of his crease to poke the puck aside, but it hits his stick awkwardly and flips backward into the U.S. net.

3rd Period, 10:40 left: Switzerland goes back on the power play after Ryan Suter puts up a forearm and knocks Roman Wick to the ice. Ryan Callahan does a great job along the boards on the kill, knocking it free for a shorthanded chance.

3rd Period, 12:13 left: At least one positive to take from the Team USA penalty kill: the Americans are willing to block shots. They stop at least four from getting to Miller. The successful kill gets the U.S. more focused on its own end. They're clogging the middle more and the physical play has picked up once again.

3rd Period, 15:11 left: Joe Pavelski heads to the box for hooking Andreas Ambuhl, giving the Swiss their first power play of the game. The Swiss get great puck movement in the offensive zone, but the Americans play well enough to keep the shooting lanes closed. Ryan Kesler drops to block a shot and gets up limping.

3rd Period, 16:50 left: Team USA coach Ron Wilson needs to get his squad more focused. The Americans are playing a little too relaxed and they're getting sloppy defensively.

3rd Period, 17:18 left: Ivo Ruthemann carries the puck on an odd-man rush with Suter defending. Ruthemann takes the shot; Miller makes the save.

3rd Period, 18:29 left: The Swiss have come out shooting in this period. They're much more aggressive and forcing Ryan Miller to work more than he did in the first 40 minutes.

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End of the 2nd Period: UNITED STATES 3, Switzerland 0 - For as well as the Swiss played their system in the first period, the Americans did exactly the same in the second. The United States is playing tough and physical, finishing their checks and winning just about every battle for loose pucks. The Callahan Backes-Ryan line is, again, playing this system better than any other line at the moment, and their two goals show it. The Malone-Pavelski-Kessel trio got in the act as well in the second period. Surprisingly, we haven't heard much from the Langenbrunner-Kesler-Brown trio.

The Swiss are now faced with the problem of having to overcome a three goal lead. Changing their system isn't really an option at this point. The goal by David Backes showed what can happen when too many Swiss players get caught up ice. And even if they did, they don't have the guns up front. The only thing a more aggressive offense would result in is an onslaught of shots on Hiller.

That being said, the Americans need to match their effort from the second period. Not so much to post a score like we've seen on the women's tournament, rather to get players more familiar with the bash-and-crash mentality.

And one other thing the Americans might focus on: getting the top line back in the mentality of shooting. Kane, Stastny and Parise came out firing in the second, but started to fall back into a playmaking mentality late in the period. They need to focus on Stastny dishing the puck and Kane and Parise firing pucks like they're the second coming of Russia's Alex Ovechkin.

2nd Period, 2:25 left: Swizerland's Mathias Seger feathers a pass through the American defense and finds Roman Wick, who skates in on Ryan Miller untouched. Miller comes up with another sprawling save to protect the lead.

2nd Period, 3:39 left: I think it may be safe to say Switzerland's defensive system has collapsed. The Americans are outshooting the Swiss 13-2 in this period alone.

2nd Period: 6:30 left: Switzerland's Yanick Weber receives a delay of game penalty, giving the Americans their third power play of the game. The U.S. gets a few shots off, but can't get anything past Hiller. What it does, however, is spark the Americans, who mount another attack.

2nd Period, 8:55 left: Erik Johnson does a great job dropping to block a shot and keep the Swiss from an odd-man rush. As he goes to knock a bouncing puck out of the air a second or two later, he gets checked by Switzerland's Andres Ambuhl and goes down awkwardly on his left knee. He looks to be okay, however. Luckily it was not the knee he had surgery on prior to last season.

2nd Period, 10:52 left: Something worth noting: The Americans started to show signs of clicking on that last power play. They were able to keep the puck deep in the Swiss zone with solid passing, last-ditch plays to keep pucks alive and battles to keep possession. Just prior their third goal, Malone fed a puck in front of the net, where Pavelski was camped out front and Phil Kessel at the side. Neither player could stuff it in. No matter. Malone took care of that moments later.

2nd Period, 11:42 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 3, Switzerland 0 - Ryan Malone checks Swiss defenseman Sandy Jeannin and crashes the net just as the puck arrives. He battles with Joe Pavelski, who is parked at the top of the crease, and ends up poking a loose puck between Hiller's pads for a power play tally.

2nd Period, 13:07 left: The Americans have an opportunity to do some real damage now as Swiss forward Raffaele Sannitz heads to the box for hooking.

2nd Period, 14:08 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 2, Switzerland 0 - Moments after Ryan Miller sprawls to deny Switzerland's Ivo Ruthemann on a point-blank shot, David Backes carries the puck up ice and strikes with a highlight-reel backhand-forehand move.

2nd Period, 15:02 left: The Americans are showing more of a tendency to shoot in this period. This time, its Joe Pavelski who feeds Ryan Malone. The winger settles it and fires a quick, low shot, but Hiller closes the five-hole and covers the puck.

2nd Period, 16:26 left: The Callahan-Backes-Ryan line is back on the ice grinding, and it sets up another solid chance for the Americans. Ryan wins a battle behind the net and backhands it in front for Backes, who misses on the shot.

2nd Period, 19:02 left: Zach Parise knows his role: shoot, shoot, shoot. On the first shift of the second period, he fires a shot high at Hiller, which is shouldered into the corner. Moments later, he carries the puck behind the net and tries to shove a backhand past Hiller on the wraparound.

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End of the 1st Period: UNITED STATES 1, Switzerland 0 - The United States survives an average period, one that was to be expected given the team's inexperience. The Americans seemed to find their game late in the period, getting more aggressive on their forecheck and finishing hits in the offensive zone. That's exactly what led to the first U.S. goal -- a solid check and battle by David Backes behind the net to free up the puck for Bobby Ryan along the boards. Ryan won his battle as well and put the Americans ahead. If the U.S. can keep up their physical game and get their speedy top line to click as they did to open the game, they should be able to build a comfortable lead, even against this stifling Swiss defense.

Defensively, the Americans look like their pairings are still trying to get used to one another. They've gotten crossed up a couple times, but this Swiss haven't challenged much. The few times Switzerland presented a threat, Ryan Miller stood tall in net.

Now that they're down a goal, Switzerland has no choice but to start attacking more frequently. But that could present a huge problem defensively given how well they've protected their own end. Can they afford to send a couple more players up on offense and give the American forwards more space? Or do they just have to hang back, play their system and hope the Americans screw up in their own end?

It probably depends on Hiller. He has faced a couple pressure situations in front of his net and held up well. If that continues, maybe it allows Switzerland coach Ralph Kreuger to free up players to attack.

There's still a lot of hockey to be played, and a lot of time for the plucky Swiss to wear down the young Americans.

1st Period, 1:01 left: GOAL! UNITED STATES 1, Switzerland 0 -- Bobby Ryan battles along the right boards and his dump on net hits a Swiss defenseman and slides into the slot. Ryan follows his shot and rifles it past his Anaheim teammate, Jonas Hiller. The tally is unassisted.

1st Period, 2:06 left: The Americans look completely out of sorts for the first time in the game when the middle gets clogged up and Miller gets pulled out of the net momentarily. The Swiss are unable to convert on a centering pass.

1st Period, 4:12 left: Zach Parise collects a turnover in the Swiss zone. He fires from the right faceoff circle and hits goalie Jonas Hiller in the mask. That sparks a new attack by the Americans, who nearly get on the board when Ryan Callahan gets the puck in the left circle, but fires wide.

1st Period, 5:10 left: The Swiss get their first great chance of the period when Julien Sprunger attempts a wrap around and former NHLer Hnat Domenichelli tries to stuff it past Ryan Miller. The U.S. goalie traps the puck with his body and smothers it.

1st Period, 6:48 left: Swiss forward Thibault Monnet takes advantage of a loose puck when the American defense gets crossed up in front of the net. Monnet gets a shot off from the right faceoff circle, but it goes just wide.

1st Period, 8:04 left: The Americans get just one shot off with the man advantage. The little puck movement within the offensive zone was okay, but nothing that you'd expect to get a team's power play on a tear. Again, credit to the Swiss to playing their system to perfection.

1st Period, 10:11 left: Team USA catches a bit of a break to get its first power play. Dustin Brown tries to reach around Switzerland's Severin Blindenbacher to chase after a puck and hits the ice. Blindenbacher heads to the penalty box for holding.

1st Period, 10:47 left: It is easy to see why Mark Streit wears the 'C' for Switzerland. He's viewed as an offensive defenseman in the NHL, but he just crushed Bobby Ryan into the corner boards. That's got to give his team a boost mentally.

1st Period, 11:08 left: Give the Swiss credit. They may not have the talent of the Americans, but they're not deviating from their game plan one bit. They're sticking with the 1-2-2 defensive setup and finishing their checks. The U.S. is spending a little more time having to break out.

1st Period, 14:08 left: Bobby Ryan picks off a Swiss clearing pass in the offensive zone and nearly connects with Ryan Callahan. The pass is a little too far in front, though.

1st Period, 16:06 left: The Swiss game plan is already showing itself. Send one guy in to forecheck, keep four back and clog up the middle. The Americans are still finding ways to crash the net, though.

1st Period, 17:25 left:   The Americans are finding their groove now. Kane, Stasnty and Parise find some nice chemistry and start the offensive onslaught. One concern for the U.S. is that they may try to get too pretty offensively by trying to set each other up, but that is hardly the case so far. Kane and Parise -- players who are expected to provide the goals -- are taking their shots.

1st Period, 19:16 left: The game is under way. The Swiss win the draw, and the Americans are showing some butterflies already. Two shots for Switzerland in the first minute.

Pregame (2:55 p.m.): The IIHF posted the lineups [pdf ] for the teams. Here are the much-anticipated line combinations for the Americans:

Zach Parise - Paul Stastny - Patrick Kane
Ryan Malone - Joe Pavelski - Phil Kessel
Jamie Langenbrunner - Ryan Kesler - Dustin Brown
Ryan Callahan - David Backes - Bobby Ryan
Chris Drury

And defensive pairings:

Ryan Suter - Brian Rafalski
Erik Johnson - Ryan Whitney
Jack Johnson - Brooks Orpik
Tim Gleason

It appears Ryan Miller will start in net. Tim Thomas will serve as today's backup.

Pregame (2:50 p.m.): Hello (Olympic) hockey fans! We'll be covering Tuesday's men's hockey matchup between the United States and Switzerland. The action begins at 3 p.m. EST. Be sure to keep checking this post throughout the game as we will be updating it until the final buzzer.

This game kicks off the men's hockey tournament in Vancouver, which truly pits the best against the best given the number of NHL stars playing for their respective countries.

The United States comes into the Winter Games as an underdog in large part because of their youth. Only three players -- Jamie Langenbrunner , Chris Drury and Brian Rafalski -- enter today's game with Olympic experience. The rest are making their debut.

Although they may not compare on paper with team's like medal favorites Canada, Russia and Sweden, the Americans boast a decent amount of talent. The roster includes 12 first-round NHL draft picks and seven players have won medals at IIHF-sanctioned events.

How well the United States fares in the tournament largely depends on the effort of Buffalo Sabres netminder Ryan Miller . Miller, you may recall, was left off the 2006 Olympic team despite an outstanding effort leading up to the Torino games. He's played with a great deal of motivation this season as evidenced by his 30 wins, 2.16 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in 52 games.

As for Switzerland , its lineup includes two current NHLers, goaltender Jonas Hiller and defenseman Mark Streit .

On paper, this matchup should favor the Americans. But if the kids are unable to shake butterflies and the Swiss get an outstanding performance from Hiller, who has been solid for the Anaheim Ducks this season, it could be problematic for the United States.

 
 
 
 
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