VANCOUVER—Team USA escaped a hard-fought battle against the underrated Swiss winning 2-0 to move on to the semifinals. Ryan Miller records the first shutout for the Americans since 2002, when Mike Richter whitewashed the Germans, 5-0. Miller remained at the top of his game, but much credit needs to be given to the defensive effort in front of him. There are no official statistics when it comes to shot blocking in this tournament, but it would be a fair bet to say the Americans are among the leaders if not the top team. Today alone, Team USA players blocked at least 25 shots. They’re playing desperate hockey in their end. Late in the third period, Erik Johnson completely dropped to the ice to stop a shot by Martin Pluss in the low slot. Miller didn’t even have to move. It isn’t often you see that kind of play so close to the netminder.The Zach Parise-Paul Stastny-Jamie Langenbrunner line continues to outperform the rest of the team. The chemistry Parise and Langenbrunner displaed almost maked Stastny, an outstanding center in his own right, look like he’s simply along for the ride. Stastny did seem to get more involved in the play as the game went on. That is sure to only continue as the tournament progresses.Consistency is still an issue for the Americans, who can’t seem to put together a full 60 minutes. Lucky for them, they have not lapsed so much that it leads to a deficit on the scoreboard.The Americans’ third line of the Blackhawks Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler and Dustin Brown struggled to find the scoresheet yet again, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying. The trio combined for 12 shots, but failed to get anything past goaltender Jonas Hiller. Either this line will turn out as a bust, or finally break through in the semifinals.The Americans almots broke a 0-0 tie at the second period buzzer,but the puck did not cross the goal line before the buzzer,keeping the game scoreless heading into the third period. The ice was broken when Brian Rafalski fired a shot from the high slot. The puck hit Hiller in the chest, Parise reached around the goaltender from the right side and taped it in. Give credit to Jamie Langenbrunner on that play. He battled a Swiss defenseman right in front, leaving Parise untouched on the play.Parise iced it with :11 left when he scored into an empty net.
NOTES—The US faces Finland in the semi finals.The Fins blanked the Czechs 2-0…..Looking Ahead: Team USA will face either the Czech Republic or Finland in the semifinals. The Americans are 0-2 all-time against the Czechs. Team USA is 6-2-3 against the Finns. Both losses have come in the medal round, the most recent being in 2006 when Finland ousted the U.S. in the quarterfinals en route to a silver medal.
|Zach Parise just manages to get the puck past Jonas Hiller’s pad to break the scoreless tie. (AP)|