SOCHI -- The Americans will take an unlucky goal-against in every game of the 2014 Sochi Olympics if their response is going to be like the one they had Thursday.
Slovakia forward Tomas Tatar got away with going into the zone offside and scored 24 seconds into the second period to tie the game, but the Americans responded with six unanswered goals before the second intermission, blowing what was a tight game wide open en route to a 7-1 throttling of the Slovaks in the tournament opener for both teams at Shayba Arena.
Phil Kessel led the U.S. with three points on a goal and two assists. Paul Stastny scored twice, John Carlson had a goal and an assist and T.J. Oshie, James van Riemsdyk and Patrick Kane each had two assists. Ryan Kesler, Dustin Brown and David Backes also scored for the Americans, who had 11 players finish with at least one point, including Max Pacioretty and Kevin Shattenkirk.
Jonathan Quick made 22 saves in his Olympic debut to help the U.S. beat Slovakia for the first time in the Olympics. The Americans previously had tied the Slovaks in 1994 and lost to them in 2006.
Good evening, everyone (or good morning if you're in Sochi). Team USA begins its 2014 Olympic tournament in just a few hours against Slovakia, and the anticipation has been building over the past few days.
Just yesterday, U.S. head coach Dan Bylsma named Jonathan Quick the team's starting goaltender for Game 1 but would not go into any detail about the Game 2 starter. Many believe Ryan Miller to be the guy who gets the call against Russia on Saturday, but it's hardly a foregone conclusion and a lot will likely depend on how Quick performs against the Slovaks.
One item just released by USA Hockey: Team USA's lines and defense pairs for today's game against Slovakia. Here they are...
We kind of figured this was going to happen, right?
After all, once the Olympic tournament begins, it's a two-week sprint to the podium with little room to recover from mistakes or poor decisions. The practice and preparation time is critical for teams and the United States is no different; they have some decisions to make with their defense but, as Dan Bylsma pointed out today, he's made a decision on his starting goaltender for Thursday's opener against Slovakia.
The bad news for everyone else is that Bylsma wouldn't reveal the identity of that goaltender during today's media session. Greg Wyshynski from Puck Daddy has a suspicion that Team USA will start with Ryan Miller, the unofficial MVP of the U.S. team in 2010 and a guy who's played very well this season under tough circumstances.
Could it be Miller? Absolutely, and it wouldn't be that surprising. But the other guy in the mix happens to be a former playoff MVP in Jonathan Quick, who has been strong in net for Los Angeles since returning from a groin injury.
Once again, NHL.com was on-site for practice and got reaction from the players and coaches following the skate. Here's how Team USA skated on Tuesday in Sochi...
SOCHI -- NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly likes what he has seen so far from the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
And he says he is receiving favorable reviews from NHL players, who have now been on the ground here for two days.
"Everything is in one place and the arenas are brand-new facilities," Daly said Tuesday during an informal press conference at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, the main site of the ice hockey competition. "They are gorgeous facilities and they are close to the Athletes' Village, which makes it convenient for the players. They have only been here for 24 hours, but the reports I am hearing are very positive."
Is it positive enough to commit to taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympics?
A decision on the NHL sending its players to the 2018 Olympic tournament has not taken place yet, but Daly says it shouldn't be too long before the League has a solid grasp on whether it will be in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
SOCHI -- When Russia announced its roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the configuration of its blue line appeared to be set in stone.
With two sets of teammates named among the eight defensemen on the team, it would be natural to assume that Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin of the Montreal Canadiens and Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Nikitin of the Columbus Blue Jackets would be playing together.
Markov and Emelin have played on the same defense pairing for the better part of two seasons in Montreal. Tyutin and Nikitin haven't played together lately, but they have in the past.
When the Russians hit the ice at the Bolshoy Ice Dome for their first practice as a full team Monday, however, neither of the two natural pairings on defense were together.
"I wasn't guessing or trying to predict who I'm going to play with before I came here," Tyutin said. "My thought was whoever they put me with, that's fine with me."