USA-Switzerland: First-period blog
A recap of the first period between the United States and Switzerland:
Scott Burnside: Well Pierre, one period in the books at the Olympic hockey tournament with the U.S. up 1-0 over Switzerland after Bobby Ryan's goal. I thought a pretty good period for the favored U.S. squad. They had a number of quality scoring chances and forced Swiss netminder Jonas Hiller to make a handful of good stops. Interesting that USA coach Ron Wilson has given the green light to his mobile defensive unit to join the rush and pinch at the blue lines. It's potentially risky, but what do you make of that, my friend?
Pierre LeBrun: Yes, I think Wilson is making good on his promise of an up-tempo, aggressive game. He wants to force the opposing team into making mistakes coming out of its zone, and it certainly worked on the opening goal when Ryan capitalized on a Swiss mistake and rifled home a beauty. The system is risky, but it may allow for odd-man breaks; but I think Team USA figures this is the only way to make up for the lack of high-end offensive depth compared to the other top countries.
Burnside: There was some question about whether Ryan deserved to be on this team, but he made a nice play to keep the puck in the the Swiss zone and then pounced on the loose puck after the turnover to give the U.S. an important lead. I was surprised Chris Drury started out as the extra forward; again, this is a nod to the youth of the American lineup. What do look for in the second period, maestro?
LeBrun: Well, I think scoring the opening goal will give this U.S. team some wings. It was really important for such a youthful squad to score first to help loosen their grip on their sticks. This is a solid Swiss team and it is not a pushover. Of all the international hockey I've covered over the years, this is the most physical Swiss team I've seen, and so far it is not backing down from the U.S. physical play. But we'll see if the Swiss wear down over the final two periods. This is a very physical U.S. squad, just as GM Brian Burke wanted.