COMMENTARY | The Americans have a roster primed to compete with the Canadians.
With Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings) and new USA goalie Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings), USA has two goaltenders that are entirely capable of shutting down the firepower of Canada and Russia.
Looking up and down the roster of the USA Men's Hockey Team, here are five players to keep an eye on ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games:
5) Jimmy Howard, G, Detroit Red Wings
Last 10 Games: 5 Games Played, 2-2-1 record, 3.20 GAA, .907 SV%
Howard is the only new face in net for USA, and could find it difficult to get meaningful ice time with Miller and Quick ahead of him, two of the main pillars of the 2010 Olympic team.
Stock: DOWN -- Howard hasn't been lights out lately, and heading to Sochi as the only new goalie on the roster will be his kryptonite. As mentioned before, it's hard to imagine Howard taking ice time from Miller and Quick, leaving him essentially obsolete to Team USA's run at Gold.
Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 0 G, 4 A, 4 PTS, +1 +/-
Faulk is one of the best young defensemen in the entire NHL, and at 21 years old, has the chance to play in at least four more Olympic games, based on his age and talent. A tough defender who racks up a large number of minutes for the Hurricanes gives Faulk an advantage as a young skater in Sochi.
Stock: UP -- While Faulk may only see role minutes early on in Sochi, he has the chance to prove his keep among the top line defenders on Team USA. When it's all said and done in Sochi, Faulk will have earned himself a top line roster spot moving forward as a USA defenseman.
3) Kevin Shattenkirk, D, St. Louis Blues
Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS, -3 +/-
Shattenkirk has been one of the leaders in points among defensemen on the power play this season. He possesses great talent with the puck and his movement with it is fantastic, which will create a lot of opportunities for Team USA in key moments.
Stock: UP -- Shattenkirk could end up being one of the more impactful players on the power play, which is going to be a key element of Team USA's success or failure in Sochi.
Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 6 PTS, 0 +/-
Kane is Team USA's flagship player on the roster. Kane is easily the most talented player on the ice at any given time for USA, and he's only getting better with age. His confidence paired with his natural talent gives USA an edge that it would gravely miss if he wasn't on the roster.
Stock: UP -- Kane will be relied on greatly during Team USA's run at Olympic gold. Look for Kane to possibly see some minutes at center, although he'll likely be entrenched heavily at the wing.
Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 9 G, 10 A, 19 PTS, +2 +/-
Just take a look at Kessel's gaudy numbers over his last 10 games. Team USA is going to need goals against great scoring teams like Russia and Canada, and Kessel will be relied on to give them just that. His 19 points in his last 10 games leads the NHL. Kessel could be in line for multiple multi-point performances heading into the Sochi Games.
Stock: UP -- Kessel can score, and will score in Sochi. If USA manages to claim gold in Sochi, Kessel very well could end up being the MVP of the entire run.
Be sure to follow Chris on Twitter @DraftInsider, where he will keep you up to the minute on all things Philadelphia Eagles and NFL Draft related. As founder and lead writer for philadelphiaeaglesdraft.com, Chris has made a name for himself in the Philadelphia Eagles and NFL Draft community as a highly regarded writer in both communities. Chris will also have you up to date with all of the happenings in Sochi, as Corespondent for Team USA Men's Hockey for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.
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