Don’t expect Team North America to be pushovers at the World Cup

Associated Press
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It might be a little unorthodox, but there’s a “young guns” team at the upcoming World Cup.

They might not have a ton of Stanley Cup or gold medal experience, but Team North America certainly has a fair bit of talent on their roster.

The last four first overall picks, Nathan MacKinnon, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, are all on the roster. Mark Scheifele, Brandon Saad, Shayne Gostisbehere and Matt Murray are also on the team.

To see the full roster, click here

The lack of experience might make some believe that this team has no shot of competing in the tournament, but they’re not willing to admit that just yet.

“At first, it was joking about the young guys,” Brandon Saad said, per SI.com. “Now you see, with the team drawn up and how much talent there is, you definitely don’t want to take us lightly. I don’t think we’ll be pushovers, that’s for sure.”

Team North America are in Group B along with Russia, Finland and Sweden and their first game of the tournament will be on Sep. 18 against Finland.

Like every other team, the key will be for everyone to accept their roles. Some players may get less ice time than they’re used to, so it’s head coach Todd McLellan’s job to figure out how to get them to buy in.

 “The veterans on [other] teams have had to check their egos at the door, they’ve had to accept diminished or smaller roles,” McLellan says. “Some of our players have done it at world juniors, but never at this type of level. Never at the Olympics, never at the World Cup, or anything like that.

 “Let’s face it: When the power play comes, there’s going to be 20 guys standing up and putting their legs over the boards. It doesn’t work that way.”

Expect Penguins goalie Matt Murray to be “the lead dog” in North America’s crease during this tournament. If he can play like he did during the postseason, this team of young players might cause a few surprises along the way.

Oh and those “young legs” might help a bit too!