The U.S. Men's National team has been guilty of playing down to the competition thus far in the 2012 IIHF Men's World Championships. That trend continued through the early stages of today's contest against Switzerland.
The Americans had already been guilty of slipping up against Slovakia in addition to close calls against Belarus and Kazakhstan. On Tuesday, Team USA was again trailing to an inferior opponent, falling behind 1-0 to the Swiss in the second period.
The U.S. didn't stay down for long. Bobby Ryan and Cam Fowler, who both play for the Anaheim Ducks, found the back of the net before the end of the second period to put the team up 2-1, and the U.S. would not trail for the remainder of the game. Ryan also added an assist in the game, earning IIHF Player of the Game honors and giving him four goals and two assists for the tournament.
Paul Stastny and Alex Goligoski put the finishing touches on Team USA's 5-2 victory with their third period goals. Stastny had a team-high three points in the game.
The U.S. improved their record to 4-2-0-1 on the tournament, setting up a quarterfinals rematch with the defending champion Finland, a team the U.S. beat 5-0 earlier in the tournament.
Slow starts and playing down to their competition are two habits this team is hoping to break. But at 4.6 goals per game, Team USA has become one of the most dangerous offensive teams in the tournament. This year's team is also the first U.S. squad to win six games in the preliminary round since 1990.
But accolades aside, the U.S. needs to find ways to jump out to faster starts. Jimmy Howard has managed to give the team quality goaltending, posting a solid 2.32 goals against average to go with a save precentage of .912. With such a young roster, Team USA is only going to get better with experience.
The U.S. and Finland will drop the puck at 11:30 a.m. eastern time Thursday on NBC Sports Network.