Both the U.S. and Slovenia are coming off big wins, but each have to get right back after it today. The game has some pretty interesting implications.
A U.S. win of any kind or Russia loss against Slovakia clinches the group for Team USA, while a regulation loss coupled with a Russia win would put the U.S. third. So Slovenia still has a chance to finish the group on top if they beat the U.S. and Russia loses as well.
Team USA should be able to handle the Slovenians, but it might not be as easy as originally thought. With the Slovenians soundly handling Slovakia, they proved they could play with the big boys. They really have nothing to lose today and that can be dangerous sometimes. If their goalie gets hot and Anze Kopitar puts on a show… it could be interesting.
Team USA’s lines did shuffle a bit and they also pulled a bit of a surprise this morning. Previously unannounced, Team USA will be wearing the 1960 throwbacks today, the best jerseys any U.S. team has ever worn. (Photo via USA Hockey)
Team USA is going to start Ryan Miller and Jimmy Howard will back up against Slovenia. This is a good move with the back-to-backs to give Jonathan Quick a break after that terrific game. Expect Quick to be the guy in the elimination round.
Derek Stepan will also draw into the lineup for the first time. I thought he might go in for Ryan Kesler who was a bit banged up, but it is Max Pacioretty getting scratched. Blake Wheeler slots into the fourth line with Paul Stastny and T.J. Oshie, while Stepan will be the extra forward.
The defense remains largely the same.
Here’s the lineup:
Parise – Backes – Callahan
Brown – Kesler – Kane
van Riemsdyk – Pavelski – Kessel
Wheeler – Stastny – Oshie
Orpik – Martin
Fowler – Shattenkirk
Suter – McDonagh
Scratched: Quick, Pacioretty, Faulk
Full lineup for Slovenia for today’s game is here.