PLAYERS TO WATCH: 2014 USA MENS HOCKEY TEAM
USA! USA! USA! After a 4 year wait, dreams of Olympic glory have returned to hockey players across the world. In the United States of America, fans are excited about their team’s chances to challenge for the cherished medals. Today’s article is a quick review of some of the players who will participate in the 2014 Winter Olympics as members of the USA Men’s Hockey Team. The article attempts to provide bios for a few USA stars at each position. Players chosen for this article are players that likely will provide a significant impact to the team’s success in Sochi.
Ladies and gentlemen, Miller Time will begin Thursday February 13 @ 7:30 EST. That’s when Slovakia will face team USA for both teams 1st Olympic match. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres goalie, 2010 USA Olympic Goalie and MVP, will return to guard the net for a 2nd consecutive Olympics. Miller was a critical cog in the American’s silver medal finish in the 2010 Olympics. Miller has established himself as an elite goalie and humanitarian. His Steadfast Foundation has assisted and continues to support children and families who are faced with the trials of pediatric cancer treatment. (Ryan Miller on Twitter)
Miller time? Maybe not! Coach Bylsma announced this morning that Team USA will start their first Olympic game with Jonathan Quick starting in the net. Jonathan has been one of the best and some say absolutely the best goalie in hockey for the last several years. Quick’s style of goal protection is considered extremely aggressive and often comes out of the net to challenge shooters. Jonathan finds inspiration and strength from his favorite athlete, Louis Zamperini (a World War II prisoner of war/Olympic runner/author).
Ryan Suter , alternate team captain, will be one of the most valued defensemen on a team with a host of strong defensemen. Ryan is noted for his strength and endurance and can easily skate significant minutes each game. A Wisconsin native, Ryan is a big Green Bay Packers and Brett Favre fan.
Another player who will be a factor on the defensive side of the ice is John Carlson. He has already won a gold medal as a member of the 2010 World Junior Championship USA team. His 6’3”, 213 pounds frame assures that he has a body that can stand up to the biggest Canadian & European defensemen. John enjoys family time and watching the New England Patriots play football.
Pittsburgh Penguins, Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik look to be a defensive force for Team USA. But, wait, why 2 defensemen from the same team? Isn’t there a better choice, than choosing 2 players from the same team? Chemistry on the defensive side of the ice is critical and having players who are already playing together is a huge chemistry boost. Paul and Brooks have played together for a long time (this is their 4th season together in Pittsburgh) and both have Olympic experience. Brooks played in the 2010 games and Paul was selected for the Olympic team in 2006, 2010 and now for the 2014 Olympics. The two have made a living shutting down superstars in the NHL and it will be no different in the Olympics. They also know what to expect from this year’s Olympic Coach, Dan Blysma. Blysma is also their coach in the NHL (head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins). Brooks likes watching the tv series, Homeland & Paul, being a Minneapolis, Minnesota native, is a huge Vikings and Twins fan.
David Backes is known as a powerful center and currently plays for the St. Louis Blues. This NHL season, David has already recorded over 120 hits and has been known for shaking things up. On the scoring side, he can put points on the board (20 goals and 42 points this NHL season). Backes is also St. Louis’ team captain and could easily have been the Olympic team captain as well. David is also known for his love of dogs. Based on stray dog news from Sochi, David should be able to find lots of canine friends while at the Olympic Games.
The team will be looking for fire power and Zach Parise, this year’s team captain, provided just that with the late goal in the 2010 Olympic Championship game. His goal shocked the opposing Canadian Team and forced the game to enter overtime. (Sub note… Canadian, Sydney Crosby, answered in the overtime period forcing the Americans to settle for silver). Zach is a multi-talented forward and will see lots of ice time in the upcoming games. Zach may have a hard time finding his favorite food in Sochi. Tacos.
Monday night, June 24, 2013 dreams were achieved as Patrick Kane and his NHL team, the Chicago Blackhawks, finished their playoff run and were crowned NHL League Champions. Patrick looks to be one of the America Olympic stars as he dreams of Olympic gold medals. The USA team will need his skills as they compete in the upcoming matches. Kane has built a reputation as a valuable player especially in clutch situations. In last season’s playoffs, he was not only a member of the Stanley Cup Champion team, he also won the season’s Conn Smythe Trophy (Awarded to the player deemed most valuable in the playoffs). By the way, when Patrick isn’t on the ice, you just might find him playing playstation 4 (one of his favorite things to do when he’s not on the ice).
Phil Kessel is another American that should improve the team changes in Sochi. He is a quick winger that is considered by many to be the team’s best goal scorer. Last season, he led his NHL team, Toronto Maple Leafs, in goals (20), assists (32), & points (52) (leading all 3 categories is an impressive accomplishment). Phil listed his favorite place to travel as Las Vegas. Let’s hope the odds are with him and Team USA during the Sochi Olympic competitions.
Alternate captain, Dustin Brown, will provide offense and brute force to the team’s front line. Brown is known for his physical play and is known to be a lead by example type of captain that should provide lots of value for Team USA. When not competing during the Olympics, look for Dustin at the speed skating rinks. Speed skating is the sport he lists as his favorite to watch during the Olympic events.
Will Team USA obtain the gold that they came so close to claiming in 2010? We will know in a few weeks. The players mentioned above will likely have a say in the success of the American team, however, there are many other stars on Team USA and one of them just might be the player that makes the play that leads them and their team to the United States Olympic Hall of Fame. So let the games begin and hopefully the chant… USA! USA! USA!