Team USA cruised to an 9-0 win over Denmark. No surprise there. The aspect of this team that could be worrisome to the competition is their speed and size.
Kailer Yamamoto (5-8, Oilers) may be the most dangerous player in the tournament. He’s surely one of the smartest and his brief encounter with the NHL has really helped him as a player. He and Patrick Harper (5-8, Predators) are part of the speed. The smaller players with speed.
Casey Mittelstadt (6-0, Sabres) is in that class by himself. He’s the kind of player who wants to be the best. Any time I’ve ever watched him he’s been the best in the game, tournament, on his team. Last night he had two goals and he was the straw the stirred the drink.
The larger players with speed are Logan Brown (6-6, Ottawa), Kieffer Bellows (6-1, Islanders) Brady Tkachuk (6-3, 2018 draft eligible) and Max Jones (6-3, Ducks). Bellows had two goals and looked like a man among boys.
When this team gets on the forecheck they’re hard to stop. They will meet their match in this tournament. They won’t destroy every team the way they did against Denmark.
Team USA should roll past Slovakia. Adam Ruzicka (Calgary) and Samuel Bucek (Chicago Steel) are two good offensive players they will need to keep an eye on.
This team controls the puck, the tempo and they have the best goaltending tandem in the tournament in Jake Oettinger and Joseph Woll.
A team with great goaltending and good puck possession could limit this team. We’ll see who turns out to be that team. Finland didn’t look good defensively or in net yesterday. Maybe it’s Sweden. Maybe it’s Canada. That’s why they play the games.
You can’t draw too much from yesterday’s win. Denmark isn’t a good team at all. This was a nice way for the U.S. squad to make a statement that they could be the team to repeat. No American team has ever won two-consecutive gold medals in this tournament. This looks like their year. Coming out of the outdoor game vs. Canada, healthy, is the key. I expect that game to be pretty fluky. It will be the first of its kind.
Some Other Thoughts
Lias Andersson (Rangers) is close to becoming an NHL player. He had two goals for Sweden vs. Belarus and he’s one of the real offensive catalysts on the team. At 19, he has a pretty mature take on how his year has been going.
“I think it’s been getting better and better. It started out tough back home. It was a busy summer. A lot of stuff so I think today was a step in the right direction,” he stated to TSN after the game.
Carter Hart is the best goalie in this tournament. That’s my opinion. Yesterday vs. Finland he had a solid outing. His mental focus was terrific and he’s a better goalie than he was last year at this time.
“Having gone through the whole experience definitely helps. Coming into this game and this tournament again. Just experiences like that. Just going to the American League after our season for a month, and their playoff run, experiences like that help you grow as a player,” said Hart.