One of the biggest road blocks when it comes to the Winter Olympics is finding ways to develop team chemistry. The top countries are putting together a group of guys used to carrying teams and asking them to work together, some in unfamiliar roles, without giving them much time to prepare.
So whenever you have guys that are coming into the Games that are already used to playing with each other, it’s a big plus.
That’s the case for Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik. Before Martin sustained a fractured tibia, they were serving as defensive partners and given that their coach, Dan Bylsma, will also be the United States’ bench boss, there’s a good chance they’ll stick together in Russia.
“That will be huge. It definitely can’t hurt,” Orpik told the Penguins’ website.
“Any familiarity guys have with each other from NHL teams or international teams playing together will only help you, especially in short tournaments like that. You can’t afford to lose a couple games and say you’re still adjusting. It’s not an 82-game schedule. If you lose a couple games you can really dig yourself a hole.”
Orpik felt good about his chances of making the 2010 squad, but he wasn’t sure he would be asked to return this time around. He’s already gotten an Olympic silver medal, but at the age of 33, he knows that this might be his last shot to go for the gold.