So it turns out we may have a genetic connection with regards to our views on the talent of the American Olympic roster. While we have players in different roles we selected 12 out of 14 forwards the same, 6 out of 7 defensemen and 2 out of 3 goalies. So lets analyze the obvious differences.
Up front, Ian has James Van Riemsdyk on his 3rd line as a left winger, while I have Alex Galchenyuk. Ian placed a more significant importance on team chemistry on his 2nd and 3rd lines by pairing teammates (Stepan/Callahan, and JVR/Kessel) together on those lines. I took the approach of keeping as much speed and skill,as high in the line up as the roster would allow. Putting Alex Galchenyuk who was an effective player on Team USA’s bronze medal team at the World Hockey Championships this spring, on a line with Kesler and Brown could be a dynamic 3rd line that can not only score, but play responsible defensive gritty game and still have enough speed to survive on the big ice in Sochi.
Our other difference was at the bottom of the roster where Ian decided on Chicago’s Brandon Saad, while I went the way of Paul Stastny. The main reason for my choice here, faceoff liability. The American centres outside of Ryan Kesler are pretty average in the face-off circle, as illustrated in the chart below. Having a 5th centre was pretty important, especially one that is functional on draws. Saad looks like Ian’s Galchenyuk, it’s always difficult predicting roles for younger players on Olympic rosters, but he (Saad) is a guy who when needed, can easily step into a bottom 6 energy role and be effective at both ends of the ice.
Our American defensive groups are very similar, top to bottom. The one difference being Jack Johnson on Ian’s team, and Brooks Orpik on mine. I see Orpik a player who brings a lot of “jam” to Pittsbrughs back end, this American line up doesn’t have a lot of mean in it. While the international game doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the style that Orpik plays, I still feel there is a need for a presence like that somewhere on your blue line. Jack Johnson on the other hand gives the line up yet another great skater on the back end. Shattenkirk, Carlson, Yandle and Johnson are all threats to seriously impact the score sheet positively for the Americans.
In the crease, we both see Quick and Anderson being the top two guys for the Americans. Hard to argue given their recent NHL success. In the 3rd spot, Ian chose Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, while I went the veteran route with Ryan Miller. I went with Miller because I believe as the incumbent starter, he finds a way to make this team. Howard is a guy that will push him however, and his play over the last 2 NHL seasons certainly warrants a long look for a spot on this roster.
Team USA is tough to get a really good read on. Their strengths should be between the pipes and of defense, but will it be enough to repeat the great performance the team had in 2010 during the Vancouver Olympics? Let us know what you think, vote below!