TEAM USA BUZZ
Would Dan Bylsma really have it in him to make Brooks Orpik the seventh or eighth defenseman in the Olympics after insisting on Orpik being on the team?
Don’t count on it, despite the fact that in reality Orpik isn’t one of the Americans six best defensemen and that is said to be a feeling from those associated with Team USA not named Dan Bylsma and Ray Shero who is now the acting GM for Team USA.
Bylsma created a bit of a stir in Monday’s opening practice when Orpik worked as the fourth pair but there was no expectation that would continue and it didn’t in Tuesday’s practice.
Orpik was a regular in Tuesday’s practice, being paired with teammate Paul Martin. Per Corey Masisak of NHL.com, Team USA’s top pairing was Ryan Suter – Kevin Shattenkirk and Ryan McDonagh – John Carlson were the second pairing. Cam Fowler and Justin Faulk were the extra’s.
Expect Orpik and Martin to be paired together Thursday vs Slovakia. The coaching staff has counted on Orpik to play a big role on the penalty kill but if Orpik struggles out of the gate like he has lately at the NHL level, it will be interesting in how Bylsma handles that pressure and if he’d play one of the young guys over Orpik like Cam Fowler. Lots of talk that Orpik will be under the microscope from Team USA officials.
TEAM USA’S PROJECTED LINEUP THURSDAY FOR SLOVAKIA
James Van Riemsdyk – Joe Pavelski – Phil Kessel
Zach Parise – David Backes – Ryan Callahan
Max Pacioretty – Ryan Kesler – Patrick Kane
Dustin Brown – Paul Stastny – T.J. Oshie
Ryan Suter – Kevin Shattenkirk
Ryan McDonagh – John Carlson
Brooks Orpik – Paul Martin
Bylsma has yet to reveal his starting goaltender for Thursday or reveal whether he will alternate goaltenders in the first two games like Canada will. The buzz in Sochi is Bylsma will ride a No. 1 throughout the tournament. The push from the management team has been to start Jonathan Quick but there is certainly a feeling that Ryan Miller deserves a shot to run with the No. 1 job after his strong play this season and guiding Team USA to the silver medal in the 2010 Olympic games.
Miller went 5-1 with a 1.35 GAA and .946 save percentage in the 2010 Olympics.