For all those who worried about Team USA following their opening game against Finland they can take a deep breath this evening after the second game against Slovakia. From start to finish the game was a display of utter dominance against the Slovakian side as not only would the offense let loose in this one, the defense would lock down on the other end as well. The scariest part of this one was that they did this without both Jeremy Morin and Brock Nelson who were out with injuries they sustained against Finland.
The best line of the night for Team USA was that of Chris Kreider (New York Rangers), Charlie Coyle (San Jose Sharks) and Kyle Palmieri (Anaheim Ducks) as they were tremendous is sustaining puck possession in the offensive zone all night and excellent on transition plays as well. The line would combine for 3 goals and 4 assists on the evening.
It was this line which got it going when Chris Kreider gave the puck to Charlie Coyle just outside the offensive blue line and he would carry it to the left faceoff dot and hit a streaking Kyle Palmieri for the tap in just 4:31 into the game and put it home for the first American goal. Palmieri would get the second goal as well on a bad angle shot at 8:02 of the first with Team USA on a five minute power play following a hit to the head of Jerry D’Amigo. The Palmieri goal culminated a shift in which Team USA dominated possession in the offensive zone for the first 1:20 of the major power play. Palmieri has shown tremendous moves in these two games and shows it will not be much longer before he is adding secondary scoring to that lethal top line the Ducks currently have.
It was Coyle’s turn to get in on the act early in the second when he would take a feed from Palmieri after a scramble in the slot and patiently wait for the goaltender to drop down and from right in front roof the shot far corner. Coyle was impressive tonight for his strength on the puck and his vision and give San Jose fans a lot to be excited about in the not so distant future for his potential.
For his part on that line, Rangers prospect Chris Kreider would show off his tremendous speed, his willingness to play in the dirty areas and a high hockey IQ in reading the play to get himself into the right positions on the ice. He has chances of his own to finish plays off, but did not get them done tonight, though if he keeps getting them the rest of the tournament that will surely change.
Other notables for Team USA tonight were Drew Shore (Florida) who scored a pretty 5th goal and was a monster on the in the faceoff circle; Chris Brown (Phoenix) showed a lot of physicality to his game while scoring a goal and Ryan Bourque who while not doing a whole lot in terms of headlines, did get an assist, was pointed out as a leader by his coach following the game and showed good puck control, a good cycle game and very good back checking when necessary. Finally Emerson Etem would cap his long couple of days in Buffalo with the final goal of the game for Team USA.
Check out all the highlights and watch the team in their next contest Thursday against Germany