It hasn’t always been pretty for Team USA at the 2012 World Championships, but after defeating Finland 5-0 the Americans have hardware officially on their minds. The victory helped punch America’s ticket into the quarterfinals for the eighth time in nine years and they’ve perhaps rounded into form at the right time.
Team USA coach Scott Gordon tells USAHockey.com that their win over the host country is the best game they’ve played in the tournament in a long time.
“That’s as good of a game as we’ve played in the four years I’ve been coming over here,” said Scott Gordon, who is the head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team for the third straight year and was an assistant for the 2009 squad. “We talked before the game about how important this game was and that every player had to contribute in some way for us to be successful. Our guys can be proud of beating a very good Finland team.”
With just one game left in the preliminary round, it’s all about jockeying for position for the quarterfinals. Team USA sits second in Group H, three points behind Canada. The U.S. has an outside shot at first but needs Canada to lose in regulation to Belarus tomorrow while and to beat Switzerland in regulation. That would be a stunning turn of events.
The United States is just one point ahead of both Slovakia and Finland. If the standings hold where they are now, Team USA would face the Czech Republic from Group S in the quarterfinals as they sit third there. Group S will see Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic, and Norway all move on to the next round.
After knocking off Canada in overtime, Team USA was in the driver’s seat to finish high atop Group H at Worlds. Slovakia wasn’t about to hear any of that as they surprised and upended the USA 4-2.
Slovakia used a monster first period effort to make sure Team USA spent the rest of the game trying to catch up scoring three times and leading 3-1 after one. Dominik Granak, Branko Radivojeviic, and Andrej Sekera tallied while goalie Jan Laco turned aside just 18 shots to get the win.
For Team USA, it was a blown opportunity to take control of Group H and they’ve now allowed Canada, Slovakia, and host Finland back into the race for first. Jimmy Howard was under siege in the game having to make 28 saves to keep Team USA in the mix. Meanwhile, Paul Stastny and Justin Faulk scored their only goals.
Coach Scott Gordon said it was just one of those games.
“I thought they won the game in the first period” said Scott Gordon, head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team. “We got better as the game wore on and battled. We get a couple of days rest and need be ready to go on Thursday.”
Team USA will gear up to face Belarus on Thursday. You can see the game live at 9:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN.
Icy stare: Check out the photo of Zdeno Chara and Max Pacioretty shaking hands after the game. Yikes.
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)
Whenever you’re a coach landing in a new job, you generally get to bring an assistant along to help you out. For Randy Carlyle in Toronto, he’s getting to do just that and is bringing in a familiar face from Anaheim.
The Leafs announced the hiring of Dave Farrish to be Carlyle’s assistant and it’s a role he’s familiar with. Farrish was Carlyle’s assistant for seven seasons in Anaheim and was part of his staff that won the Stanley Cup in 2007. Those are plaudits that Maple Leaf fans are likely to keep an eye on as Carlyle takes over in Toronto.
Farrish joins Scott Gordon and Greg Cronin as assistants in Toronto, although those guys were on Ron Wilson’s staff previously.
Now that the St. Louis Blues have come out and Ken Hitchcock blocked the Columbus Blue Jackets, what now for the Jackets who were rumored to be thinking of replacing Scott Arniel with their one-time head coach? While Hitchcock was presumed to be their top option, they’re now left to look around elsewhere if a move at the top is on the way. But who?
Here’s our short list of potential candidates now that the Blues have swept through and stolen the Jackets’ idea.
Therrien hasn’t seen the light of day behind a NHL bench since being fired by Pittsburgh in 2009. Therrien’s defensive-minded style of coaching is similar enough to Hitchcock’s in that it would potentially help out Steve Mason. The big question is: Has Therrien grown up enough to lead such a young team? He was good enough to help set the Penguins up for glory, doing the same in Columbus would make him a savior.
Gordon was seen to have gotten a raw deal when he was fired by the Islanders and Gordon is still thought to be one of the brighter young minds out there. He’s coached Team USA at the World Championships and now he’s Ron Wilson’s assistant in Toronto. He’ll get another head job soon but would Columbus roll the dice? Tough to think they’d do that after doing the same with Arniel.
Clouston has a tough reputation after his time in Ottawa. He made Dany Heatley want out of town but he also took an otherwise brutally talented Sens team to the playoffs in 2009. He’s tough on his players but a very smart hockey man. He’s got a good gig coaching the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL, but if the NHL calls again he’d certainly answer. Much like Gordon, however, he might be seen as a roll of the dice.
Hey, why not? It seems like Payne got a raw deal in St. Louis after the myriad of injuries the Blues have seen and his record in St. Louis, all told, was good (67-55-15). While he didn’t get the overtime/shootout losses needed to keep things afloat this year, the Blues played hard for him and were a threat to make the playoffs late the last two seasons. If he can snap things around in Columbus, that’d be the ultimate payback to the Blues for stealing their plans.
He’s currently Arniel’s assistant right now and while Arniel likely didn’t feel the heat from that appointment before the season, perhaps that was the warning shot he needed. Richards struggled getting a system in place when he coached the Minnesota Wild for two seasons and having him fill Arniel’s shoes on an interim basis would likely be the easiest move to make. Whether that’s a long term fix, however, would be up for debate and might just be seen as a lateral move. The Jackets aren’t in need of a lateral move if they’re going to make the playoffs.