The IIHF World Championships may not be the first thing that comes to your mind this time of year, what with the Stanley Cup playoffs and all, but to the rest of the world it’s a big deal and for Team USA they’re looking for some redemption.
Getting to the medal round will be tricky as Team USA is playing out of Group H and has co-host and defending champion Finland as well as Canada to deal with early on. Maple Leafs assistant Scott Gordon gets the call to coach Team USA and brings the Americans into the tournament looking to improve on last year’s eighth place finish.
Detroit’s Jimmy Howard will be the go-to guy in goal with Dallas’ Richard Bachman and minor leaguer John Curry backing him up. Expect Howard to play a ton and be the key to the American’s hopes at winning a medal. Team USA GM Brian Burke certainly believes Howard can help change things around as The Canadian Press’ Chris Johnston reports.
Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson will serve as captain while the team’s oldest player, Winnipeg’s Jim Slater at all of 29-years-old, serves as the assistant alongside Lightning forward Nate Thompson.
Scoring-wise, Team USA has some guys that can fill the net. Bobby Ryan, Paul Stastny, Kyle Okposo, and Max Pacioretty stand out but look for the really young guys to see a lot of chances. Kyle Palmieri, J.T. Brown, and Cam Atkinson will get their chances as well.
Joining Johnson on defense will be a pair of young studs capable of scoring and defending in Cam Fowler and Justin Faulk. Dallas’ Alex Goligoski and Edmonton’s Jeff Petry will help as well. If you’re curious to see how Team USA will shape up on the blue line in Sochi for 2014, keeping an eye on Worlds will help.
For a more detailed layout of Team USA at Worlds, Chris Peters at the United States of Hockey has your hookup.
The United States opens up play Friday morning at 5:15 a.m. ET against France on NBCSN.
More: Team USA roster (PDF)