U.S. hockey faces skeptics

12 years ago Comments Off on U.S. hockey faces skeptics

Amid the controversy surrounding Wayne Gretzky and his wife, most people have either tuned out hockey in the Olympics or just do not care. Well, I care.

The U.S. men’s team opened action this week against Latvia. The game ended in a 3-3 tie.

While it should have been an easy game for the men, (fingers crossed, I will not mention the debacle in ’98) there is still a large number of questions that need answering.

Who is in the net? The U.S. team has three capable goalies and only one has had international experience. John Grahame of the Tampa Bay Lightning will get the start for the United States not for his international experience but for his play in the NHL so far this season. He has a 2.68 goals against average this season and is having what one coach calls “the best season in the NHL.”

Are they too old? Yes and no. When your captain is 44 years old, things might get a little shaky.

Then again, it is Chris Chelios we are talking about, so let’s move on. There is a fresh breath of the youth movement on board this go-round, but the average age is still 33.

For the U.S. to compete, they must have the inexperienced players step up.

Is the defense good enough? Once again, I bring up Chelios, Mathieu Schneider, Aaron Miller and Derian Hatcher. So yes, they will be fine. They easily have one of the better blue lines skating in Torino.

Who will score is the biggest question.

Defensively, these guys are set with experienced veterans and a goalie that will play well with them. For them to do anything, players like Mike Modano, Bill Guerin, Erik Cole and Keith Tkachuk must get out of the rut that they are currently in and put the puck in net. The biggest X-factor is Tkachuk, who is just coming off an injury. If he gets hot, watch out.

Can they medal? Yes. Gold might be stretching it, but they have the talent to bronze. But then again, we have see miracles on ice.