The United States took on the host Czech’s on Monday and was easily one of the best games the US has played in their tournament.
What made the game so important for the US was that Group B is such a crap shoot, with everyone being tied after game 2 things really could go any way. The margin for error for the US was slim as they already had a loss to Canada but a win would guarantee them a spot to move on. The US was also coming in off of a big win against the Russians.
The Americans didn’t disappoint in this game. The first goal was scored by none other than the combination of Pinto and Robertson. Then the Czech’s came out with two goals of their own to lead the game. Then the passing machine Trevor Zegras got two quick assists on goals by Kaliyev and Drury. They wrapped up with a nice bow in overtime with both Turcotte and Caufield getting their first points of the tournament.
They showed a level of compete against the Czechs that would suggest they have another gear to play at. Putting up over 40 shots but Parik had himself a really good game and gave the Czechs every opportunity to win. Knight was solid make some incredibly key saves and keeping the game close himself, but I still think he can be better. The US did get lucky with a goalie interference call that saw a Czech goal disallowed.
So now the United States waits to find out who they will be playing in the quarter finals. All of which could provide difficulty. Starting with the Czechs, they would be the easiest opponent but as we saw they have the ability to play to the level of their opponent despite all of the injuries. Next would be the Russians who need a win against the Germans to get into the playoff round, but once they’re there they can make a huge difference. Finally the Canadians, if the Canadians lose to the Czechs it could mean they could face off, this would be less than ideal for the US.
Overall this US team has been able to step up for the players that have been variably invisible. Before the tournament I believed Caufield could be top 5 in goals, boy was I wrong. I think Wahlstrom is heating up, but still not quite playing to his potential. Alex Turcotte, a 5th overall pick, has 1 point in 4 games, that’s disappointing. Whereas Shane Pinto has been consistent and playing the best hockey of his young career. Nick Robertson showing his potential as a speedy top 6 player. Arthur Kaliyev was the 13th forward, I can confidently say that he is not now.
Photo Credit – IIHF.com