This could not have been what the Team USA management and coaching staff had in mind when they assembled their 2016 World Cup roster.
The intensity, physical play and determination that had been promised leading up to the tournament was nowhere to be found in a dismal 3-0 loss to team Europe.
After spirited efforts against Team Canada in the pre-tournament games, where they seemed to care about the tournament more than anybody else, the American’s simply came out flat on Saturday and were almost immediately playing from behind. It all started when Marian Gaborik opened the scoring just five minutes into the game thanks in part to Ryan McDonagh getting caught up the ice and creating an odd-man rush the other way.
Things would only get worse just a few minutes later when Patrick Kane, the NHL’s reigning MVP and scoring champion, was guilty of a turnover at the blue line that led to a 2-on-0 rush for Team Europe that ended with a Leon Draisaitl goal
Turnovers and odd-man rushes would be the story of the day for Team USA.
Even though they didn’t give up a ton of shots (only 17 on the day), the ones they did give up were great looks, including way too many odd-man breaks. Goaltender Jonathan Quick didn’t really have much of a chance on any of the three goals he gave up.
Even when it seemed like Team USA was going to start climbing back into the game thanks to the type of tough, gritty goal the team was built to score, things still had a way of falling apart. Late in the second period James van Riemsdyk was ruled to have intentionally used his body to direct the puck at the net, negating what would have been a goal to bring them to within one. They would never get another puck behind Europe goalie Jaroslav Halak.
By the time Team USA started to generate some pressure offensively (when it was already trailing by three goals) Halak put on a goaltending clinic in his crease and slammed the door shut, stopping all 35 of the shots he faced. They needed him to be their best player, and he was.
Team USA returns to action on Tuesday against Canada in a game that is pretty much a must-win if it is going to have any chance of advancing beyond the group stage of the tournament.
Saturday’s game also extends a pretty ugly shutout streak for team USA dating back to the 2014 Olympics when they closed that tournament with back-to-back shutout losses against Canada and Finland.