The United States’ men’s hockey team has captured the nation’s attention with its superb play in the preliminary round. That combined with America’s silver medal finish in 2010 has set the bar high for this tournament.
Team USA is eager to meet those high expectations.
“We’re ready, man. And we’re excited,” defenseman Paul Martin told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“I like a lot of what I’ve seen of the way this team’s come together. You can see it in how we’ve adjusted to the big ice, forechecking better, defending smarter, using our speed. It feels good.”
You could make the case that the Americans looked came out of the round robin looking better than any other team. Russia, which lost to the United States and followed that up with a shaky performance against Slovakia that ended in a shootout win. Canada swept its Group, but still needs to find its groove offensively. Meanwhile, the Swedes had the most dominant showing of any team thus far, but their offense is looking a lot less intimidating without Henrik Sedin, Johan Franzen, and Henrik Zetterberg.
Of course, how a team looks right now has to be taken with a grain of salt. After all, the Canadians didn’t look great in the preliminary round during the 2010 tournament and they still ended up winning gold.
That doesn’t mean America’s success to this point was meaningless though. They’ve gained confidence and displayed team chemistry. Those are invaluable traits going forward.