I thought I would go through the lines I would use for the major Olympic teams in the upcoming Olympics in Sochi. I figured I would start with the team I am rooting for so let’s get into this.
My team USA
Zach Parise Derek Stephan Patrick Kane
I’ll start with the two easy guys and they both happen to be some of my favorite players. Zach Parise is one of the best all-around players in the league. The emotion he plays with and his drive alone would be enough to put him on this team. If Patrick Kane isn’t the most skilled player in the world it’s only because of Pavel Datsyuk. I’ve always liked Kane as he grew up in my hometown and I love players as skilled as him. He will most likely be the go to offensive player on this team and this year I think he’s up for the challenge. Now this is where people will probably disagree but I think Stephan is the best offensive center available for team. Coming off a great year for the rangers and averaging 2 points per game in the WJC in 2010 I think he could step up into the number center role.
James van Riemsdyk Paul Stastny Phil Kessel
This line I was kind of iffy about. First of does anyone know what happened to Stastny? His first couple of years he was incredible and looked like he would only get better but since then his production has steadily decreased to only 24 points this year. But he always seems to do well on the big ice and I’m willing to give him shot on the second line. Kessel is the easy one. Tremendous speed, tremendous skill tremendous player. He has a reputation of avoiding contact but I’m willing to put up with it because of how skilled he is. JVR is the first one I’d take off this team. He never lived up to his second overall pick status and I was never impressed by him. That being said he seems to play good with Kessel and is coming off a pretty good season. I think this line gives the U.S a second line capable of scoring more goals than people would expect.
Jason Pominville Ryan Kessler Bobby Ryan
Now this is a third line that could do some damage. Now I know Pominville wasn’t invited to camp but should have been. A great, reliable, penalty killing player that would fit in great with Kessler. Now onto Kessler. Most people would disagree with putting Kessler on the third line but I think it balances this team out better. I still think Kessler is the best all-around player on this team and in the whole NHL for that matter I think he slots in better on the third line. Bobby Ryan is another player who has started to drift off. Four straight seasons of 30 goals or more to just 11 this previous season. Some of the problem was him constantly being brought up in trades and that distracted him so I am interested to see what he will do with a fresh start in Ottawa.
Ryan Callahan David Backes Dustin Brown
Talk about a line that’s hard to play against! Brown is probably the hardest player to play against in the NHL. Hard hitting power player that can still score would be perfect on the fourth to wear the other team out. Backes is player very similar to brown that when playing with him will be a great combination. Callahan is as close to a perfect player you will get. He had 31 points this year and plays great defensively. He will be the premiere penalty killer on this team. This line would be for wearing the other team down but is capable of scoring as well.
Ryan Suter Ryan Mcdonagh
Both are outstanding defensemen that I feel would complement each other nicely. I always thought Suter was just benefiting from playing with Shea Weber in Nashville but his first season in Minnesota proved otherwise. He had a Norris trophy candidate season and will bring steady play to the blue line in Sochi. I think Mcdonagh is one of the best defensemen in the league that backbones the rangers great defense. This would be the top pairing to stop the other team’s scorers.
Erik Johnson Jack Johnson
Not a lot of people like Erik but I think he still is a top two defender. Pair him with a guy like jack who is a great puck handler I think this could be a great pairing. They both also have had experience from the previous Olympics and that experience should help them.
Keith Yandle Kevin Shattenkirk
This would be he offensive pairing that could pump in some goals from the backend. Yandle is an experienced vet that could really help Shattenkirks game. Shattenkirk is young but a very talented defender that will help the team on the power play.
Putting Miller as the starter was easiest decision I had to make while putting this list together. I don’t care about his declining stats. The reason they are bad is the horrible defensive play of the Sabres. I always say Miller on a good team would be the best goalie in the league and his play in the last Olympics proved that and his play in Sochi would prove it as well.
Quick being in the backup role isn’t saying his play is poor but just how good Millers is. Seeing him backpack the kings in the playoffs prove how good of a goalie he really is. Quick is one of the best goalies in the league and if it weren’t for millers play in the last Olympics he would be the easy starter.
Captain- Dustin Brown, a great leader who leads by example.
Associates- Ryan Callahan, another player who leads by example
Zach Parise- Veteran and the best player on this team