Posted on: February 24, 2010 8:55 am
Edited on: February 24, 2010 5:58 pm
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.
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.
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 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 23, 2010 12:32 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2010 9:03 pm
By Ina Fried
Swiss skater Stefanie Marty is a scoring machine, a fact she proved again in her team’s dramatic shootout win against Russia to capture fifth place in the Olympic tournament.
Marty scored the team’s lone goal in regulation and also notched the shootout winner. That follows a record-breaking four goal performance against China and an earlier hat trick.
But Marty humbly shrugs off mentions of what elite company she is in when it comes to Olympic women scorers.
"It’s great to contribute to the team like this," she said in an interview Monday. "it’s still a team success."
As for the team, Marty noted that after two early losses, the Swiss team came back and did everything it could do. In fact, other than a bad 5 minutes in which Canada scored four or five goals on the Swiss, Marty said the team played solid, disciplined hockey.
“We couldn’t expect to win,” she said, noting the strength of the Canadians. But, she said, the team did have a solid showing and ended with three wins in a row.
While it won’t result in a medal, Marty said she hopes the performance will translate into more resources for the Swiss women;s team. “I hope it means something,” she said. While it was thrilling to play games before more than 5,000 fans in Vancouver, Marty said she is concerned about how many Swiss were paying attention. “I don’t know how many people see it at home.”
As for her personal future, Marty looks forward to spending a couple days in Vancouver and then returning to her college team -- Syracuse -- where she has a game Friday and Saturday.
Posted on: February 16, 2010 2:51 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2010 5:38 pm
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.
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.
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.
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
And defensive pairings:
Ryan Suter - Brian Rafalski
Erik Johnson - Ryan Whitney
Jack Johnson - Brooks Orpik
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.