Games like Sunday’s are always tough. The U.S. knew it was going to roll over Germany, and of course they did, winning 8-0. Team USA is now 3-0-0-0 and is guaranteed to head into Tuesday’s game against Canada as the first place team in Group A. The U.S. has outscored its opponents 19-4 in WJC action so far.
Heading into the day off before meeting Canada, it’s good to get into a scoring rhythm and keep the confidence level high, but there wasn’t much competitiveness or intensity in Sunday’s contest. Now Team USA gets an extra day to prepare for the highly anticipated New Year’s Eve game. That one could have some real interesting implications for the medal round, depending on what Canada does against Slovakia on Monday.
Getting back to the game against Germany, Team USA did a lot of things well, most notably on the power play where they were just scoring at will. Their 5v5 play was better as well, but with all the German penalties, they didn’t have as much time as they probably would have liked.
This U.S. team has shown a lot more skill than I thought they had and the way the lineup is structured, they’re built for success.
USA Scoring Summary
1. Hudson Fasching (Copp, Matteau), 8:09 — After taking a pass from Andrew Copp, Hufson Fasching entered the zone, cut slightly to the middle and released a shot from the top of the faceoff circles that slipped through the goalie’s five-hole.
2. Nic Kerdiles (Hinostroza), 11:56 (pp) — Vince Hinostroza threaded a pass through a few German defenders to find Kerdiles on the back door. Kerdiles then slipped the puck inside the right post to make it 2-0.
3. Will Butcher (Eichel, Erne), 2:21 (5×3 pp) — After Leon Draisaitl got a major and game misconduct for checking Andrew Copp from behind, Team USA took advantage after another Germany penalty gave them a 5-on-3. Working the puck around on the PP, Eichel set up Butcher who ripped a shot from the right point into the upper-left corner. The goaltender never saw it.
4. Vince Hinostroza (Copp, Carrick), 3:27 (pp) — On the same power play from the Draisaitl major, Connor Carrick’s pass slipped under Andrew Copp’s stick and right to Hinostroza, who blasted it inside the left post to make it 4-0.
5. Riley Barber (Grzelcyk, Stepan), 11:46 (pp) — With another power play, Barber had the puck on the half wall, took the space he was given and wired a shot low from the left faceoff circle, leaving the Klein no chance. It was a really nicely-placed shot for the 5-0 lead.
6. Matt Grzelcyk (Barber, Hinostroza), 13:57 (5×3 pp) — With the U.S. on yet another power play, Grzelcyk unleashed an absolute laser beam of a shot that went off the crossbar and down.
7. Steven Santini (Grzelcyk, Kerdiles), 10:39 (pp) — On yet another power play, Team USA got experimental. Santini was put used as the net-front forward despite being a defensive defenseman. It paid off. Grzelcyk’s shot went off Santini’s shin pads for a goal.
8. Vince Hinostroza (Shore), 13:46 — After Quentin Shore made some moves around a defender, he lost the handle on the puck. It went right to Hinostroza’s stick and he roofed it to make it an 8-0 game.
Anthony Stolarz — 15 saves on 15 shots
Stats of note:
– Team USA had 14 players put up at least a point and five players register multi-point games: Vince Hinostroza (2-2–4), Matt Grzelcyk (1-2–3), Riley Barber (1-1–2), Nic Kerdiles (1-1–2), Andrew Copp (0-2–2)
– USA went 6-for-10 on the power play
– USA out-shot Germany 53-15
– USA took four minor penalties and finished 3-for-3 on the PK
– Andrew Copp was once again dominant at the faceoff circle, winning 76 percent of his faceoffs (13-of-17). Jack Eichel won nine of 13 (69.2%)
– Here’s the official score sheet from the IIHF. (PDF)
Full highlights from the game via IIHF:
Team USA General Notes
– The U.S. did not have Danny O’Regan in the lineup today. According to the broadcast, he was held out only for precautionary reasons and is day-to-day. Zach Stepan stepped into the top line with Nic Kerdiles sliding from left wing to O’Regan’s center position. The line was less effective without O’Regan, but Kerdiles and Barber still work really well together.
– The U.S. power play is obviously humming along right now, by far the best in the tournament. They scored six power-play tallies in the game. The real key is how the U.S. works its points. They’ve got Will Butcher and Matt Grzelcyk quarterbacking their two units and they are doing a fantastic job at that. Big credit to assistant coach Greg Brown for devising a scheme that clearly is playing to USA’s strengths.
– This German squad had good energy early and tested the U.S. a bit. Team USA actually took three minor penalties in the first period, but cleaned things up later. The PK was once again very good, especially the work done by Tommy Di Pauli, Steven Santini and Brady Skjei as a 5-on-3 PK unit. The U.S. obviously doesn’t want them to have to work too often, but that’s a solid unit.
– Team USA didn’t fall into the trap of playing down to their opponent. They kept doing the things they needed to do to win. The intensity level of the whole game was low, but the U.S. kept working on the things it needed to work on heading into the off day and a date with Canada on New Year’s Eve. There weren’t many signs of laziness or bad habits. They just played the game.
– The U.S. didn’t score many cheap goals in this game, which alludes to the skill level. When you have a team that gives you time and space, you have to take it. USA did that and scored a lot. The only goal that was moderately fluky was the one that went of Santini for a power-play goal. Beyond that, Team USA was picking corners and finishing plays better than they have all tournament. That’s a great sign heading into the Canada game.
Seeing as it was an 8-0 game, there’s a lot of guys that could get covered here, but in the interest of your time and mine, here are a few guys I thought had notable performances.
Anthony Stolarz — He only had to make 15 saves to earn a shutout, but Stolarz made a couple of tougher stops early and a nice glove save in the second. Those weren’t gimme saves, so he did a good job there. Stolarz is so quick and so big, he just gives nothing to shoot at. As he continues to develop, he could be a really special goalie in the near future.
Matt Grzelcyk — How fun has this kid been to watch in this tournament? After being the last cut last year, Grzelcyk has taken on a big leadership role this year. He’s leading as a captain, but also in his performance. Consistently Team USA’s most noticeable defenseman game in and game out, Grzelcyk’s three-point performance was well earned. He is a weapon on the back end and has been solid when needed defensively. Grzelcyk is even outperforming lofty expectations coming into the tournament. He leads Team USA with six points (2-4) through three games.
Andrew Copp — Copp got hit hard from behind by Leon Draisaitl and was on the ice for a while. It was a tough hit, but Copp was OK after receiving some attention on the ice. He didn’t miss a shift and has been Team USA’s most dominant center for the entire tournament in all three zones. He had another multi-point performance with a pair of assists and is a tremendous leader for Team USA’s outstanding energy line. He has five assists in tournament play now.
Hudson Fasching — Named Team USA’s player of the game having scored the first goal, Fasching was a dominant force on many, if not all of his shifts. He is so hard to take off the puck and does a great job down low. From the faceoff dots down in the offensive zone, the U.S. doesn’t have a guy who has been better than Fasching there. It’s an important area and will be even more important against Canada.
Vince Hinostroza — With four points, including a pair of nice goals, Hinostroza has been great throughout the tournament. He’s on the fourth line, but has produced at such a high clip and is a threat every time he’s on the ice it seems. His speed and skill level have made him a much bigger factor and allows Team USA to roll three lines with offense throughout. Hinostroza now has five points in the tournament.
Nic Kerdiles — Moving over to center in O’Regan’s place didn’t hinder Kerdiles a bit offensively. He does a nice job of setting things up from the middle and got his first goal of the tournament today. I like seeing him on the wing a little better, only because I think O’Regan allows he and Barber to do more offensively. Still, Kerdiles showed he can produce from the middle as well as the wing. He has five points in the tournament with a goal and four assists.
Brady Skjei — Skjei was incredible in the first period defensively. He was also doing a great job moving the puck out of the offensive zone. On Team USA’s first goal, he made the whole thing happen by starting up the transition with a little subtle move around a pair of German forwards and a simple pass ahead to Matteau. Those kinds of plays are what Skjei does so well and needs to continue to do well for the U.S. to have success.
Steven Santini — Again, Santini has been wow-worthy in his own zone. It’s tougher to gauge on a game like today’s, but he was solid throughout. When he got thrown out on the PP for the first time, probably all season, he got a goal. He’s been really good throughout the tournament, so it was nice to see him get on the score sheet. He doesn’t score many.
Ryan Hartman — I’ve thought Hartman has gotten better every game and was once again very good against Germany. He made some nice moves out there, drew a penalty or two and was physical throughout. Hartman plays the game so hard every shift. He’ll need to have his best effort yet against the equally physical Canada.
That’ll do it for today’s recap. Be sure to check back for more WJC coverage Monday in the build-up to Team USA’s highly-anticipated preliminary-round tilt with Canada. Should be a really great game.