Saturday, January 2, 2010

More on Team USA

By KiPA

How about some actual analysis on the American team for the Olympics rather than just talk about who's a hitter?

Let's look at what the projected lines might be.

Forwards

Zach Parise - Paul Stastny - Jamie Langenbrunner

Why Langenbrunner on the top line? Because he has experience playing with Parise in New Jersey, and despite his age, he can still play. Chemistry's a big thing that shouldn't be underestimated. Stastny is the unquestioned top center on Team USA and Parise is one of the game's best left wingers.

Bobby Ryan - Joe Pavelski - Patrick Kane

This might actually be the top line. Maybe switch Pavelski and Stastny. Lot of talent here. Ryan and Kane both have been on fire as of late, and Pavelski has been steady more than spectacular since returning from an injury.

Ryan Malone - Ryan Kesler - Phil Kessel

Boy, it's tough putting Kessel on the third line. I might have to say screw chemistry and bump Langenbrunner down and move Kane and Kessel up one each. But if this is a line, it's going to be strong defensively, not to mention gritty, with Malone and Kesler, and each player can provide offense.

Though it'd be fun putting either Bobby Ryan or Ryan Callahan on this line, just to have all the Ryans in one place.

Ryan Callahan - Chris Drury - Dustin Brown/David Backes

This is the checking line, with heavy emphasis on checking. Callahan and Drury are the two forwards who average the most shorthanded time per game for the Rangers, who have the fifth-ranked penalty kill, so there's got to be something good defensively about them. Drury doesn't throw hits very often, but leads all NHL forwards in blocked shots. Brown and Backes are big physical players, and Backes adds an additional faceoff man.

I originally decried Drury's presence on the team, but this is the Olympics, not the NHL, so his $7 million salary doesn't matter. He's a third-line center and a solid penalty killer, and that's the role he'll play for the U.S. Well, fourth-line center for the U.S. Same thing.

Defense

Brooks Orpik - Brian Rafalski

Rafalski's having a tough season offensively, but so is everyone for Detroit, but he's the biggest threat from the blue line. Orpik would handle the stay-at-home duties and throw a lot of hits; together with Sergei Gonchar, Orpik is on the Penguins' top pairing.

Mike Komisarek - Ryan Suter

A poor man's Orpik-Rafalski. The fun part here is Suter is trying to become the third member of his family to earn an Olympic medal, behind father Bob (1980 gold) and Uncle Gary (1998 silver.) Bring home the bronze to finish the set! Actually I think the US would be quite content with a bronze, don't you?

Jack Johnson - Erik Johnson

A poor man's Komisarek-Suter. Neither of the Johnson boys are having a particularly good season but both have plenty of potential. Johnson is an all-around talent in the making while Johnson is more of an offensive player. ;-)

Paul Martin, since he's currently injured, would be the odd-man out for now, since he might not even play.

Goalies

Ryan Miller
Tim Thomas
Jon Quick


Miller has to be the starter right now, doesn't he? He's got a 2.08 GAA and .932 save percentage. Thomas has a 2.36 and .920, while Quick comes in with a 2.57 and .905.

Of course, I'm not in charge of the team, so it's possible I'm way off on what the lineup will look like. Plus, as I mentioned above, even I'm second-guessing myself about some "decisions." One thing for sure though is the Games should make for some fun viewing.

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