It was almost total domination for the United States today in its quarterfinal match-up with the Czech Republic. Team USA collected a 7-0 victory to earn a shot at Canada in the semifinals. The win guarantees the U.S. will play for a medal of some kind, it will decide which color against its North American rival Thursday at 4 a.m. ET.
From the drop of the puck, the U.S. controlled the pace of the game and despite early penalty troubles, made the most of their opportunities. Team USA scored a goal in the first period before exploding for five in the second and added one more in the third to dispatch the Czechs.
The U.S. was able to effectively use its speed in transition and were able to establish a good net-front presence. More than anything, the U.S. was simply dominant on the power play, registering five goals with the man advantage.
Team USA took care of business and now look to Thursday with Canada awaiting. I’ll have a full preview of that game later today.
For now, after the jump, a look at Team USA’s stats from the game, some general thoughts and player notes.
Team USA Scoring Summary, Stats
Goals: Johnny Gaudreau (3), Riley Barber (2), Ryan Hartman, J.T. Miller
Assists: Seth Jones (4), Jacob Trouba (4), J.T. Miller (2), Alex Galchenyuk, Cole Bardreau, Jake McCabe
Saves/GA: John Gibson — 31/0
Other stats of note…
— Team USA went 5-for-13 on the power play.
— The U.S. scored five goals on 15 shots in the second period.
— One area the U.S. did not dominate today was the faceoff dot. The U.S. did not have one regular center above 50 percent on draws. Vince Trocheck was closest winning nine of 20 draws for a 45 percent success rate.
— Jacob Trouba’s four assists put him in sole possession of the scoring lead among defensemen and ties him with Alex Galchenyuk for the Team USA lead and second in the tournament overall with eight points. Seth Jones is one point behind both of them with seven, including six assists.
— Riley Barber led Team USA with five shots on net.
— With his 31-save shutout today, John Gibson improved to 3-0-0-2, with a 1.51 goals-against average and .950 save percentage.
Team USA’s complete player stats through five games. (IIHF)
— The biggest area of concern for Team USA going forward is going to be its penalty trouble. The U.S. entered the game having more penalty minutes than any other team in the tournament and added 20 more on 10 minors against the Czechs. Team USA found the penalty box four times in the first period alone. Though it didn’t cost them today and has only cost them twice all tournament, it still has to change, especially against Canada’s potent power play.
— In games not against Canada or Russia, the U.S. has posted a grand total of 24 goals. While Canada will have a tougher D than the Czechs, and a better goalie, the U.S. has to find a way to make this ability to convert translate. Team USA is getting production from all kinds of places.
— The defense allowed 30 shots on goal, but a good majority of them were from low-percentage areas. With the way the D has been switched up, the U.S. has really tightened things up. When they have had break downs, more times than not, John Gibson has been able to bail them out. Strong defensive play at this stage of the tournament is a huge positive.
— The power play is just getting ridiculous now. In the last two games, Team USA has scored nine goals with the man advantage. Moving Vince Trocheck with Johnny Gaudreau and J.T. Miller has instantly paid off, with that unit collecting four of the five PPGs today.
— The game plan today was mostly executed perfectly. It was clear the U.S. staff wanted to limit the Czechs’ top scoring unit, by utilizing match-ups at forward and defense and it worked pretty well. The U.S. held that line to three shots in the first period. Things opened up a bit more with the top Czech scoring unit putting up 10 total shots, but by that point the U.S. was in control.
— A lot of folks have been commenting on Alex Galchenyuk’s ice time (mostly Canadiens fans) and while I can understand their frustration, I didn’t think he was misused today. With the game plan to utilize the bottom six forwards to shut down the Czechs defensively and the way the J.T. Miller line has been going of late, there wasn’t a ton of opportunities to give the big forward major minutes. That can and probably will change against Canada where goals will be harder to come by, but the U.S. has its set roles and they’ve worked well in the last two games. Still, with limited ice, Galchenyuk managed to post an assist and was it ever pretty. (h/t to @cjzero for the following videos)
Johnny Gaudreau — Obviously he got the hat trick, so that’s pretty solid. All three goals came on the power play and all three were pretty easy, but you still have to finish those chances and he did. He now has five goals in his last two games and leads Team USA in that category. After a somewhat slow start, Gaudreau is heating up at just the right time. He seems to have new life and is making the most of it. Here’s a look at his hat trick goal (note the great set up by J.T. Miller)
Seth Jones — I thought Jones has his best game yet today, collecting four assists and looking rather sound defensively. The biggest thing for Jones was his ability to make good decisions with the puck and make plays. His one-touch drop pass to Jacob Trouba was something special as it led to a J.T. Miller power-play deflection goal. Overall, Jones just looked more confident with the puck and was able to make the right plays almost every time.
Jacob Trouba — A four-assist day is only going to strengthen Trouba’s candidacy for being named the tournament’s best defenseman. He’s been Team USA’s most consistent skater and has made quite the impression in this tournament. His eight points are second in the tournament currently and he’s just been a threat all tournament. He’ll be a key guy against Canada.
John Gibson — The goaltender had another sensational day at the office, making 31 stops and collecting his first solo shutout of the tournament. He split one with Jon Gillies against Germany. Gibson made all the saves he’s had to make and a few of those big ones along the way. He’s simply gone about his business and been as good as the U.S. has had in this tournament perhaps ever. He’ll have a big test against Canada, but is looking absolutely locked in right now. Here’s a look at one of Gibson’s flashier saves from today.
J.T. Miller — Like Gaudreau, Miller seems to have new life in this tournament. He’s put up five points in his last two games and is looking more like the mature playmaker everyone expected him to be coming into the WJC. His assist on the Gaudreau goal above was just a great patient play and he earned his power-play deflection by establishing a great screen. Unfortunately for Miller, it was Jacob Trouba taking the shot, which probably hurt, but he’ll take the goal I’m sure. He’s getting hot at the exact right time.
Tyler Biggs — Biggs has had a lot of scoring chances, but has failed to cash in on them. That said, he’s doing other things really well, like establishing a physical game, killing penalties expertly and getting after defensemen on the forecheck. He needs to avoid some bad penalties and maybe pop in a goal or two before this tournament is over, but though the production is down, the effectiveness is up for Biggs. He’s been a factor especially in the last two games.
Rocco Grimaldi — After being benched in his last game, the message was apparently well received by Grimaldi. He affected the game with his speed and helped generate chances playing on his off wing with Vince Trocheck and Tyler Biggs. Grimaldi wasn’t trying to do it all himself and was doing a good job of getting behind the D and making things happen. That speed and tenacity will come in handy soon.
Riley Barber — With his two-goal game today, Barber showed more of what he did against Germany. He was strong on the power play and very good at five on five. This was the type of game Team USA has needed out of Barber playing with Galchenyuk and Sean Kuraly. When he’s at his best, Barber can be deadly offensively.
Ryan Hartman — With a goal today and one of the better-executed spinning passes you’ll see (though it didn’t end with a goal), Hartman had another very effective game for the Grind Line. He was a part of getting under the skin of the Czechs’ big guns and made the most of his opportunities offensively.
Blake Pietila — Pietila was dynamic on the penalty kill and made a lot of the really simple plays that can make him so effective. He played physical and was also good at shutting down opposing forwards and pressuring the D. He’s stayed within his role perfectly throughout the tournament and while you don’t always notice it, he’s usually having a big impact on the game.
Coming up later this evening, a full preview of Team USA’s rematch with Canada.