With the World Cup of Hockey less than three weeks away, it is officially time to start covering and getting excited for the beginning of this “best-on-best” tournament. In what will be the first of three articles posted every Wednesday before the tournament begins on September 17th, this first article will cover line projections for each country.
While other teams boast more speed and skill, Team USA will rely heavily on physical along the board play, and high hockey IQ. They will need to have instant chemistry amongst their lines if they want to compete with Canada in the group stage and have a chance to advance to the semifinals.
In what should be a difficult decision because of the caliber of all three starting goaltenders on the Team USA roster, Quick gets the nod for Game 1 because of his prior outstanding work for Team USA.
Ryan McDonagh – John Carlson
Ryan Suter – Dustin Byfuglien
Jack Johnson – Matt Niskanen
Extra: Erik Johnson
It will be interesting to see if head coach John Tortorella wants to pair his left-handed defensemen with his right-handed defensemen. If he chooses to do so, look for these to be the defensive pairings for Team USA. If not look for Niskanen and Carlson to pair together due to the chemistry they surely have developed playing for the Washington Capitals.
Zach Parise – Ryan Kesler – Patrick Kane
Max Pacioretty – Joe Pavelski – T.J. Oshie
James van Riemsdyk – Derek Stepan – Blake Wheeler
Justin Abdelkader – Brandon Dubinsky – David Backes
Extra: Kyle Palmeiri
Scratching Kyle Palmeiri is highly questionable considering Team USA already lacks the scoring prowess of most other teams in the tournament. Most of their scoring will have to come from the first two lines and their powerplay, and they are going to need to win 2-1 games. However, seeing that Justin Abdelkader made the initial roster of 16, it seems to me that the management of Team USA is ready to win low scoring, tight checking games like these.