The U.S. lineup for today’s World Junior Championship-opening contest against Germany is now available. Here is who the U.S. will put together to start the game with some thoughts on each…
After the jump:
Alex Galchenyuk – Sean Kuraly – Riley Barber
— This line got going as the game went on against Sweden in a pre-tournament game, but got split up against Finland. They’re back together with Kuraly’s good two-way capabilities in the middle. Galchenyuk is the scorer for this line, but can also make plays when needed. Riley Barber is a good wing for Galchenyuk, with his excellent distribution ability from the right side.
Johnny Gaudreau – J.T. Miller – Rocco Grimaldi
— The line Phil Housley loved so much in camp is still together despite a rather ineffective performance in the pre-tournament game against Finland. Rocco Grimaldi and Johnny Gaudreau are both on the smaller side, but have the speed and skill to beat defenders and make you forget about their stature. J.T. Miller should be better today as he gets used to playing between these two. He’s there to help create time and space and use his excellent vision to make sure these other guys have a chance to score.
Mario Lucia – Vince Trocheck – Tyler Biggs
— After Stefan Matteau got cut, it appears the U.S. abandoned its projected top-six, bottom-six top lineup. The addition of Lucia to this line gives it a little more scoring pop, while Trocheck and Biggs should also be able to do a bit more offensively. Putting this trio together is fairly new. They may have seen a few shifts together against Sweden, so getting chemistry quickly will be key.
Blake Pietila – Cole Bardreau – Ryan Hartman
— The self-dubbed “Grind Line” will do just that. This group is responsible for shutting down top lines, causing pressure on the forecheck and getting after teams physically. They have enough offensive pop, particularly with Hartman, to contribute some goals.
— Slotted in as the 13th forward, Vesey should see some quality time still. He has good size and speed, so he can fit into a variety of roles. Look for him to see some shifts with Trocheck and Biggs.
Jake McCabe – Connor Murphy
— With both being strong defenders, this might be the closest you see to a shut down pair. Both have offensive ability too, so they can get up ice if need be, but they’ll likely focus on their own end.
Mike Reilly – Seth Jones
— These guys have been together since the summer camp and up until the game against Finland, looked really strong together. They still should be. Jones will have to be a little more defensively responsible with Reilly being more of the offensive risk taker. Jones can cover if Reilly gets caught up ice.
Shayne Gostisbehere – Jacob Trouba
— Trouba brings the hitting, Gostisbehere the speed. Both can skate well, but they’re so different otherwise. Like Reilly, Gostisbehere likes to get up in the rush, so it will be up to Trouba to be patient and stay solid on the back end. These guys should be able to contribute some points.
Scratched: Garret Sparks
— The U.S. will need to rely heavily on John Gibson. He likely gets ridden the whole way.
The game starts at 9 a.m. ET and will air live on NHL Network with live streaming on NHL.com in the U.S. Enjoy the game!