U.S. men’s hockey officially begins its quest for gold at the Winter Olympics today when the puck drops against Slovakia in Sochi, Russia.
Team USA features 13 of the 25 players who saw action for the team that won silver four years ago in Vancouver. In a surprising move, goaltender Jonathan Quick (Kings) will get the start today instead of Ryan Miller (Sabres), the 2010 tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Although they may not have the star power of Canada (Sidney Crosby) or Russia (Alex Ovechkin), the U.S. will roll out a balanced attack with four solid lines.
Behind captain Zach Parise (Wild) are top scorers Patrick Kane (Blackhawks) and Phil Kessel (Maple Leafs), who rank fourth and fifth in the NHL in points, respectively. Center Joe Pavelski (Sharks) currently is tied for fourth in the NHL in goals.
Conversely, Slovakia is a bit light on the offensive side of the puck following the announcement that ex-Rangers forward Marian Gaborik (Blue Jackets) will not participate due to the broken collarbone suffered on Dec. 21. Their top scorer is Marian Hossa (Blackhawks), who has 24 goals and 26 assists on the season. He ranks third in plus/minus with a plus-26 rating.