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.
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 He's been replaced by Patrick Kane for now.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.
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.
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.
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.