It’s the biggest day of the preliminary round as the U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey Team takes on host Russia at the Bolshoy Ice Dome in the second preliminary round game at the Olympics. The two squads will take the ice at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Network (also streaming live on NBCOlympics.com in the U.S.).
Dan Bylsma appears to have turned his focus on defense as he has shuffled his defensive pairings. The forward lines remain the same, but there could be some in-game juggling there as well.
Jonathan Quick gets the start in his second international game and it’s safe to say he probably hasn’t played in an atmosphere like the one he’s about to since the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And even that may be mild compared to how the home crowd will be rocking at Bolshoy for the Olympics.
The U.S. has to play an aggressive, but smart game to slow the Russians’ vaunted scoring attack, while also finding a way to maintain the frenetic offensive pace they were able to play with against Slovakia.
Team USA’s lines after the jump.
Zach Parise – David Backes – Ryan Callahan
Dustin Brown – Ryan Kesler – Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk – Joe Pavelski – Phil Kessel
Max Pacioretty – Paul Stastny – T.J. Oshie
Cam Fowler – Kevin Shattenkirk
Brooks Orpik – Paul Martin
Ryan Suter – Ryan McDonagh
Scratched: Derek Stepan, Justin Faulk, Jimmy Howard
Russia’s lines are here.
– Again, pay no mind to the order. That’s just how they decided to list it on the line chart, it’s not a depth chart.
– Though the forward lines stay the same, Bylsma did try out flipping Dustin Brown and Zach Parise, which would make the Kesler line more offensive. If the U.S. is trailing, look for that switch potentially.
– Bylsma wanted two shutdown pairings with Suter and McDonagh (which will probably play a ton) and the one he’s most familiar with in Orpik and Martin. I still think we’ll see plenty of Kevin Shattenkirk, Cam Fowler and John Carlson, but maybe not right away.
– This Russian team has scoring throughout the lineup, meaning that all four lines will have to be engaged defensively for the U.S. They all have the speed to skate with Russia. They just have to combine that with some aggressiveness to get on a lot of pucks throughout the game.
– The Pavelski line has to be big again. They’re the only one that matches Russia’s skill enough, so they have to be dangerous. Russia’s D is not overwhelming, so they should have room to operate.
– Quick should be tested more in this game, so it will be interesting to see how he handles it. I think he has a pretty long leash to find his game, but if things go bad, Miller is a good option off the bench and should be ready if needed. This game is going to tell Bylsma a lot about what he has in Quick.