5 fun things to look for from Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey

Team USA is coming in with a plan for the World Cup of Hockey. 

It may not be a very good plan but it is, indeed, a plan. 

Coach John Tortorella doesn’t care how his team wins as long as it happens. 

If you are a fan of Team USA, that has to give you a special tingle down your spine. Sure, he may take patriotism to an uncomfortable level… but by the same token it adds a level of stakes that shouldn’t be associated with an exhibition tournament. 

The NHL has to absolutely love it.

As the tournament begins on Wednesday, I want to take a look at the five fun storylines to watch for from Team USA.

The Goalie Situation

John Tortorella has remained quiet when talking about his goalies and while it is some obvious gamesmanship from him, he does have a tough decision in front of him. 

Who in the heck does he start? You have two-time Stanley Cup champion Jonathan Quick as the leader in the club house. 

Quick has plenty of rings, so that will surely blind any old school thinking coach. So why not compare Quick to Cory Schneider, the goalie many want to see in net for Team USA.

Dashboard 1 (7)

The graph, provided by NHL Numbers’ very own Ian Fleming lays it out pretty simply. 

Both are good and are above league average… but in the short sample size, it’s probably safer to lean towards Schneider, who’s consistently put up more effective numbers.

While the debate between Quick and Schneider isn’t much to talk about, maybe Bishop should be getting his share of starts. I’ll leave you with this chart and you can decide who is more likely to steal a game for the US.

Dashboard 1 (8)

Just how far past their prime is Team USA?

Team North America isn’t doing Team USA any favors by taking a large chunk of their talent and pitting it right against them. The collection of talent assembled by the US is a collection of players that are aged right around 30 and have seen more than a few seasons in the NHL. 

Experience in these types of tournaments can be overrated and as we have already seen in a couple of preliminary games, old, slow players typically aren’t doing well.

The upside for any Team USA fan is the possibility of fresh players. 

Fatigue can wear the best players down including veterans. If these guys came into camp in shape and trained properly, they won’t have to worry about their age being too much of a factor. Most of these players are 40+ point producers, not an easy feat in the NHL. The problem is, this is a best on best tourney, you can’t just bring “good players”.

What will Tortorella say next?

The best part of the pre-tournament games has been John Tortorella, he is a walking, talking quote machine. He doesn’t have to say much to get the media up in a tizzy. His comments to Linda Cohn were misguided in this writer’s opinion but it did take any attention away from the players themselves. I may be giving the man too much credit, it seems as if he does these things to steer attention away from the players.

His unassuming team of first liners mixed in with middle-six players don’t want to hear questions about players not at the tournament. 

So Tortorella is going take all of the attention away from them.

This is me officially taking off my tinfoil hat. Nonetheless, I don’t mind when Tortorella opens his mouth, it gives me something to write about.

Will the head-scratching decisions come back to haunt Team USA?

Phil Kessel and Kevin Shattenkirk aren’t on Team USA. This upsets some people.

Some have declared this the least likable team to don the red, white and blue. It is tough to argue as it is a team of gritty, rugged players that are hard to play against. 

The name recognition is minimal and their biggest star is Patrick Kane, most likely the most polarizing player in the league. 

As an American, It is tough to cheer them on. 

They selected players like Brandon Dubinsky, Justin Abdelkader and Jack Johnson to be on their team voluntarily. 

Jack Johnson is a possession black hole, while Abdelkader and Dubinsky are a couple of miserable SOB’s who really shouldn’t be among the country’s top talent.

The saving grace for this decidedly average team is their group, where only Team Canada should take them down. 

They almost have a yellow brick road to make it into the semifinals before they really face a team that can take them down. 

Ideally the NHL would like to see the two of them against each other in the final. Can you imagine if a team led by John Tortorella made it to the final? The hockey world would burn.

Is Team USA at a coaching disadvantage?

Tortorella in a Sportsnet article had this to say when asked about dictating the pace against Team Canada.

“These guys, they want to play. It’s such a short tournament, you want to make your presence felt right away as far as how you’re going to go about your business. There won’t be any problem with either team as far as intensity [Friday],”

“But as far as getting involved in a Kess-Toews, matchup? I’m not doing it.”

The World Cup of Hockey is a short tournament but deciding not to match lines is incredibly short sighted. 

If they have a chance to take advantage of a matchup, why not do so? Giving up and just sticking to your guns isn’t making you any more admirable. Team USA may not have to worry about that until they come up against Canada in a high pressure situation such as the World Cup of Hockey final, the problem for them is making it to that point. If they think arrogance and sheer will can take them that far, they’ll be in for a rude awakening.

  • BurningSensation

    Kesler should give Toews some sort of monster Xmas present for saving his NHL career, by tying him up before a clearly pissed-off Weber could put his mitts on him after the boarding incident.

  • G2

    Wow! I don’t quite understand how advocating showing respect for two minutes to the anthem and flag of the country that feeds you and keeps you safe is “misguided”. This is such merde.
    Tortorella, to me, has always been a fairly major jackass. That doesn’t mean that you can’t just accept that, in this case at least, he means what he says and he says it because he means it. Not everything is a strategy, lots of people believe in things. Have a little gratitude, and shush.

    • Ben

      I’d imagine that the issue isn’t that Torts is ‘advocating showing respect’. Because he hasn’t advocated for it, he’s made it an order:

      “If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game.”

      I like Canada, I like standing and humming along to the anthem. I also like a degree of political freedom.

  • KACaribou

    It kills me when some blogger pretends that he knows more than a professional hockey coach like John Tortorella; and then tries to convince people of this great knowledge gained through internet useage to convince others that it is so. Ballsy.

      • KACaribou

        All I ask is for people on FN to know their limitations. Don’t act like you know more than the coach or management, just give your opinions without belittling real hockey people who know 100x more than anyone here. I don’t think that is asking too much.

        • Truculence

          It’s a good thing then that we have you around as the resident know-it-all to objectively tell us when we are wrong on a blog.In fact, I would recommend to the minds behind this great site to hire you as a proof-reader/editor in order to better stifle dissent and to mock all opinions contrary to your own.

          I just have one question: As the Nhl consists of 30 teams -many of whom have competing visions of what a team should look and play like- how do you always know which ones are on the right path? I mean, you yourself proffer many opinions critical of players and management, so how come you are always right? Oh crap, I just contradicted myself: I mean, know-it-alls always know everything. Duh!

          That’s why you can criticize Treliving for firing Hartley, because although Treliving is part of management and he technically knows “100x more than anyone here”, he obviously doesn’t know as much as you.

  • TheRealPB

    Tort’s strategy of making his entire team stand for the entire game at the bench, not just the anthem, will prove to be the winningest strategy.

    How can they go wrong when the chose both (bad) Johnsons on D and no Shattenkirk?

    • acg5151

      I disagree when it comes to Erik Johnson; he faces the toughest competition on his team most years and usually is positive in corsi relative to his team, ends more shifts in the O zone than he starts. I don’t think he’s as bad as people make him out to be.

  • Parallex

    Tortorella is such a clown. Honestly if I was a player on team USA I’d sit down during the song and dare him to follow through for having the gall to say I can’t.

    They’re shooting themselves in the foot here but they still have talent, I just wouldn’t put any money on them beating Canada or the Swedes but they can probably beat the Frankenteams, Russia, Czechs, and Finns.