Team USA may not have gotten enough credit going into the Olympics. After a heartbreaking loss to Canada in the 2010 finals in Vancouver, many felt that this team was lacking in offense while depending on a very young defense. Head coach Dan Bylsma‘s team continued to put those naysayers to rest Wednesday as they defeated the Czech Republic, 5-2 in the quarterfinals.
Scoring has be anything but an issue for this team as they struck first 1:39 into the game when James van Riemsdyk cashed in giving USA an early 1-0 lead. The offense that did not seem to match Team Canada on paper has now scored 19 goals in four games during the Olympics for an average of 4.75 goals per game.
The Czech Republic attempted to stay with the speedy Americans when Ales Hemsky scored minutes later to tie the game at 1-1. After Hemsky’s first of two goals, USA went on to score four unanswered, putting the game out of reach.
The United States seems to be getting contribution from everyone on the roster, but Phil Kessel in particular continues to shine in Sochi as he notched his fifth goal. Dustin Brown and Zach Parise added a goal each while David Backes had a goal and an assist.
Jonathan Quick who has been very sharp thus far, improved to 3-0-0 after stopping 21 of 23 shots faced. Surely enough, he has been getting a lot of help from his defensemen.
“We continued to play to our strengths, using our speed, beating guys to pucks and being hard-nosed in front of the nets,” Ryan Mcdonagh said. “We’re continuing to defend pretty well here.”
The New York Rangers defenseman has been paired up with Ryan Suter and the two have become Bylsma’s top shut-down unit.
With their win on Wednesday, USA will get set for a rematch of last year’s Gold Medal game when they meet Canada in the semi finals Friday at 12:00 p.m. ET. While the United States won convincingly, Sidney Crosby and company had quite the scare in their quarterfinal game against Latvia. Canada went on to win 2-1 sending them to the final four.
“We’re just trying to stay focused and go about our business,” Mcdonagh said. “We’re just trying to stay in our structure and execute in situations we’re out there in.”
While Canada and USA face off against each other, Finland will be pinned up against the top-seeded Sweden.
Ekiert’s Three Stars:
3. Ryan Suter; USA- 3 Assists
2. Alex Hemsky; Czech Republic- 2 Goals
1. David Backes; USA- 1 Goal, 1 Assist