Now that the preliminary round is over and every team has played three games, it is possible to sit back and evaluate each team’s performance, as well as compare them against each other to see who has impressed so far.
Looking at each team under the same microscope, it’s become pretty evident that the USA hockey team has emerged as the team to beat coming out of the prelims, and while a strong performance early in the tournament means nothing in the medal round, the U.S. has been arguably the most impressive squad out of the gate.
A quick look at the standings reveals just how good the U.S has been. While Sweden is the only team to win all three games in regulation, the U.S. is still a perfect 3-0, including a thrilling 8-round shootout victory over Russia saturday morning. What really jumps out when looking at that chart is goal differential. At +11, the Americans lead the entire field, including powerhouse Canada who has nine.
Blowout’s over Slovakia and Slovenia have most likely inflated those number slightly, however there is no doubt that the United State’s offense is flourishing, s factor that was a bout of a concern for many going into the tournament. Phil Kessel has been red-hot, scoring a hat trick today against Slovenia to add to his already gaudy point totals and is currently leading all skaters with seven points.
T.J. Oshie became a household name after his shootout heroics, but he and Joe Pavelski are tied for second in U.S. scoring with four points each. With a ton of speed on the wings, the United States upbeat style play is exactly how coach Dan Bylsma envisioned his forwards playing when he helped pick the roster.
Jonathan Quick and Ryan Miller have both been stellar in goal as well. Quick holds a .944 save percentage in two games so far, while Miller just barely missed his second career Olympic shutout today, letting in a goal in the final minute vs. Slovenia. With such dominating performances in net, it’s no wonder the American’s have looked as good as they have.
Having said that, anything can happen in the elimination rounds, and with so many unanswered questions for many teams, there are too many variables at play to start awarding the Gold to the American’s just yet, however if you’re an American fan, you have to be pleased with the way your team has looked so far.