The United States Men’s Hockey team were defeated today by Finland 5-0 in the bronze medal game. Their loss leaves them off of the Olympic podium for the event. The United States has only two medals in hockey since the storied “Miracle on Ice” team of 1980.
The US was viewed by many as a serious contender for a gold in Sochi, so this is a bitter disappointment for the group and there’s plenty of blame to go around. There was no small debate about whether or not the US selected the strongest possible team they could have when the roster was announced with players who were having terrific seasons such as Kyle Okposo, Bobby Ryan and Dustin Byfuglien being left off the team by the selection committee. That talk was all but squelched in the group stage of the tournament when the US team was scorching hot, scoring 20 goals in their four group games, going undefeated. Those talks need to be revisited now that this team that was assembled with high character, high paced players looked completely over matched against the Canadians and were embarrassed by the Fins en route to not scoring a single goal in the two most important games. Seems like they could have used the league’s seventh leading scorer in Okposo, a four time 30 goals scorer in Ryan, or the highest scoring US born defenseman in Byfuglien.
The players who were selected obviously have to take the blame as well. This disappointment is not about any one player, but the most talented skater on the US team is without question Patrick Kane and he was a complete non-factor for the past two games, and frankly most of the tournament. Kane was awarded two penalty shots in the game today against Finland and in those attempts failed to produce a single shot on goal. That is not acceptable. In big games your best players have to deliver, Kane did not.
The defense was supposed to be a strength for this team but over the last two days in Sochi they have been anything but solid. If not for a herculean effort from Jonathan Quick against the Canadians the US likely would have allowed 3 or more goals on Friday and he was human today against Finland during the 5-0 drubbing. You can not allow that many goals without a serious lack of defensive discipline.
It’s a disappointing day for US hockey and its fans, but the team didn’t deserve to win yesterday to advance to the gold medal game and they certainly weren’t the better team today during the bronze medal game.