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...
Okay guys...it's starting to get real.
As I type this, it's approaching 11 p.m. in Sochi, Russia, where several of the 2014 men's Olympic hockey teams have wrapped up their first practices. Russia was first to go this morning and there was plenty of buzz about Alex Ovechkin practicing on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Alex Semin, and also goaltending questions; is it going to be Sergei Bobrovsky or Semyon Varlamov leading off for the Russians?
No one's giving it away, so we have to wait a couple more days.
Also on the ice today was Team USA, which took a team photo on the ice before beginning its first practice under head coach Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh Penguins), assistant coaches Todd Richards (Blue Jackets), Tony Granato (Penguins) and Peter Laviolette.
While many consider Canada and Russia to be the favorites for gold at these Olympics, the United States proved in 2010 that it's never wise to sleep on the Americans. It's going to be a tall task to reach the podium in 2014, but the American core is four years older and many of the players have Olympic experience to lean on.
Now, for the juicy details. NHL.com's crew is on site in Sochi and took in Team USA's first practice; here's their report on the lines and pairs today...
We'll keep this brief on the intro, but welcome to the BlueJackets.com Sochi blog. This is the place to find the latest news, updates, videos and more from the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and in particular you'll find Blue Jackets-centric coverage from the Games.
There will be a heavy focus on Team USA (featuring Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards as an assistant to Dan Bylsma), the Russians (with four Blue Jackets on the roster) and the overall tournament. If you followed the 2010 Olympic tournament in Vancouver, you know well that this is one of the most exciting events in sports.
Sit back, relax, bookmark this blog and follow along. It's going to be a blast.
Boy, didn't this one feel familiar?
I know what you were thinking after Matt Moulson gave the Islanders a 2-0 lead late in the second period. Things did not look good for the Blue Jackets at the time and a two-goal rally was going to be quite the task in the final 20 minutes. But as they did many times last season, they kept the deficit manageable and gave themselves an opportunity to chip away.
The power play stepped up and delivered a huge goal - exactly what Todd Richards and his staff want to see from that unit - and began to reverse the flow a bit. Letestu's snap wrister not only brought the Blue Jackets within a goal but it gave them a real sense of belief that a comeback was in the cards, and Letestu said as much after the game. Despite some cases of lopsided play, the Blue Jackets were never "out of control" in this game. They just needed something to get them going and the power play did just that.
So, what went right and what went wrong? Let's talk it out...
The Blue Jackets did not have their best tonight. They did not bring the same game that nearly got them into the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring, and they were a bit timid and sloppy out of the gate on opening night at Nationwide Arena.
But, they did a fine job in righting the ship late in the first period and seemed to have things straightened out early in the second period. They got back to their heavy forechecking game and forced the Flames defense into mistakes, but were unable to beat Joey MacDonald for a third time until the waning minutes of regulation.
Richards said post-game that there's no sense in feeling sorry about this game, and for good reason: the Blue Jackets are right back on the ice tomorrow night, and will serve as the opening night guests of the New York Islanders. They face another fast team that likes to push the pace, and right now, there's no better remedy than to get back at it (and in short order).
So, what went well and what didn't go all that great? Here are some post-game nuggets...
The first morning skate of the 2013-14 Blue Jackets season is in the books.
Opening night is mere hours away and the mood throughout the locker room is one of high anticipation. The players have sat around the last three days, watching other NHL teams get their seasons started and it has made them more than ready to drop the puck tonight against Calgary.
Here's what you already know: Sergei Bobrovsky is tonight's starting goaltender for the Blue Jackets. We'll wait and see from the Flames side, but Karri Ramo played last night in their 5-4 shootout loss in Washington. It could mean a start for veteran Joey MacDonald, but nothing is set in stone just yet.
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards confirmed that Fedor Tyutin will not play tonight. In his spot, David Savard draws in over Tim Erixon. The decision wasn't an easy one, but Richards' reasoning: "we all thought (the coaching staff) that David had a better camp than Tim."
Read on for tonight's Blue Jackets lineup, injury updates & more...