USA Hockey Report Card: Americans Fail Miserably In Bronze Medal Game

USA HockeyAll of Team USA’s potential flaws were exposed in the team’s final two games of the 2014 Winter Olympics, and that’s why the Americans will leave Sochi without a medal.

The U.S. was still in position to play for a gold medal as late as noon on Friday on the East Coat of the United States. By noon eastern on Saturday, the Americans’ tournament was done with nothing to show for their time in Russia.

The Americans played by far their worst game of the tournament in the bronze medal game against Finland, and the Finns walked all over them on the way to a 5-0 win.

“Yeah, we did collapse,” defenseman Ryan Suter told reporters following Saturday’s loss as he stated the obvious.

What was the biggest reason for the collapse? Find out below in the final USA Hockey report card of the Olympics.

Forwards
The Americans scored 20 goals in their first four games, but went the final 137:59 of the tournament without scoring a goal. The forwards group was slowed down Friday by a Canadian team that was simply better, but on Saturday against Finland, they just packed it in. The U.S. had 24 shots on goal in the bronze medal game with very few of those shots representing legitimate scoring chances. They had just six shots on goal in the third period with zero scoring chances. On the rare occasion the U.S. got scoring chances in the game, it wasted them. Patrick Kane missed the net and hit a post on his two missed penalty shots. Max Pacioretty missed the net on a breakaway. The Americans’ best line throughout the tournament was that of James van Riemsdyk, Joe Pavelski and Phil Kessel. That trio pulled a no-show against Finland. Head coach Dan Byslma eventually juggled his lines and put seldom-used Blake Wheeler in van Riemsdyk’s spot. Kane will take grief for missing the two penalty shots, but he was one of the better Americans on the ice. Ryan Callahan had a real gritty tournament and had another solid game against Finland, especially on the penalty kill. But all in all, there was not nearly enough from this group as a whole on Saturday and over the last two games of the tournament.

Grade: C-

Defensemen
There’s no way to allow five goals and look at it at as any sort of positive. There were defensive breakdowns all over the ice. Ryan Suter and Ryan McDonagh had been the best D-pair for the U.S. the entire tournament, but they had a rough game against Finland. That pairing was especially brutal in the opening minutes of the second period when Finland scored a pair of goals in a span of 11 seconds and never looked back. McDonagh just fell asleep as the Americans attempted to move the puck up the ice and that eventually led to a 2-on-1 that produced the second of those two goals. The Americans’ speed from the back end was neutralized in this one as well. The D-men rarely jumped into the attack, as they had done for much of the tournament in the previous games.

Grade: C-

Goaltending
Technically, Jonathan Quick could have kept this game a little bit closer, but there’s no way he could have stopped some of the shots that got by him against Finland. Quick probably should have been able to make the stop on Teemu Selanne’s first goal. After that, however, the goaltender was hung out to dry. He had no chance on Olli Maatta’s power-play goal in the third, which also came after the U.S. had given up. He was also up against it on Selanne’s second goal, in which he somehow found a large patch of open ice right in the middle of the slot for a power-play goal. Quick was absolutely fantastic in the first period, especially as he made a few huge saves on a scramble in front of his net. He was probably the Americans’ most consistent performer for the entire tournament and was the right call as Team USA’s No. 1 netminder.

Grade: B

Special teams
Miserable, miserable performance from the special teams. The American power play was nonexistent and finished the tournament with an 18.8 percent success rate. The power play is always difficult to configure in short tournaments like this, but the man-advantage did the Americans no favors, especially late in the tournament. The penalty kill was the worst it’s been all tournament long against Finland. That’s not surprising, either, as much of penalty kill is just compete level. That was nowhere to be found on the two Finnish power-play goals. The U.S. just forgot about Selanne on the first, and Brooks Orpik made a bad play on the second that left Maatta all alone for a one-timer from the right wing that beat Quick.

Grade: D

Next up for Team USA: A medal-less flight back to America.

Photo via Twitter/@BuzzFeedSports

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