Thirty years. That’s how long it’s been since Team USA has won a gold medal in men’s hockey. Ever since the legendary “Miracle on Ice” team won gold in 1980, the United States has won just one Olympic medal: a silver medal in 2002. (Canada defeated them for the gold medal.)
But can the United States win gold in Vancouver in 2010? Not according to the so-called “experts.” Most of the national media didn’t even pick the States to win the bronze.
Contrary to popular belief, we at Buffalo State believe that the United States has a decent chance to win gold. In order to do this, the team is going to need solid, if not spectacular play from their goaltending, defensemen and forwards.
In goal, the United States are anchored by Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller. Miller, as many Sabres fans know, is one of the best at his position in the world. His statistics this season have been so impressive that many consider him a legitamate MVP candidate.
Miller will also be the biggest factor into whether or not the States win a medal. A goaltender in hockey is like a quarterback in football: it is the most important position on the team. Should Miller falter, the United States’ medal hopes will take a serious blow.
If Miller does run into any problems, the United States will turn to either Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas or Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. Thomas is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s best goalie, while Quick is a promising talent.
Team USA is confident in all of their goaltenders. “Right now, in my opinion, Ryan Miller is the best goaltender in the NHL this season, and Tim Thomas is probably playing just as well, even though he stuggled early,” General Manager Brian Burke said, according to www.nhl.com.
The defensemen for the United States are loaded with youth and mobility. The only true veteran the team has at the position is 36 year-old Red Wings blueliner Brian Rafalski. However, all of the other defensemen are very talented in their own right.
The rest of the defensive corps is made up of the Kings’ Jack Johnson, the Blues’ Erik Johnson, the Predators’ Ryan Suter, the Ducks’ Ryan Whitney, the Penguins’ (and East Amherst native) Brooks Orpik and the Hurricanes’ Tim Gleason. All of them are solid in their own zone.