Tuesday, December 20, 2005

USA, All The Way!

The U.S. pulls its roster last night during an OLN broadcast of the Stars vs. Wild in St. Paul. I am sure that upped the ratings for this thrilling game.

Okay, so here is the roster for 2006. A few surprises and a few disappointments. I couldn’t be happier that Jeremy Roenick is not found on the roster. Better luck next time Jeremy.

Okay, let’s breakdown the Goaltenders first. All three will be making their debut in the red, white, and blue. Whose in:

Rick DePietro, Winthrop Mass. (Islanders): A good goalie with a so-so year. Right now he is letting big rebounds out and is not squaring up to the puck as well as the next two guys.

Robert Esche, Utica NY (Flyers): A streaky goalie that has improved his consistency of late. I don’t expect him to be the starter, unless he turns it up a notch in the next month or so. Esche however does have some international experience.

John Grahame, Denver CO (Lightning): A goalie that had a rocky start to the season but has found a good grove and is playing well behind the Tampa Bay defense. I see him as the #1 or 2 goalie on this squad.

The D-men.

It’s mostly a veteran squad on the blue line with Chris Chelios (Chicago IL/Red Wings), Darian Hatcher (Sterling Heights MI/Flyers), Brian Rafalski (Dearborn MI/Devils), Mathieu Schnieder (New York, NY/Red Wings) and Aaron Miller (Buffalo, NY/Kings). New-comers include John-Michael Liles (Zionsville, IN/Avalanche) and Jordan Leopold (Golden Valley, MN/Flames).

The defense should be solid in front of whomever, the pick up of Leopold and Liles I thought was a good choice. The D-core should be a quick, yet physical bunch.


Making a return to the USA sweaters are Keith Tkachuk (Melrose MA/Blues), Chris Drury (Trumbull, CT/Sabres), Bill Guerin (Wilbraham, MA/Stars), Mike Modano (Livonia MI/Stars), Brian Rolston (Flint MI/Wild), and Doug Weight (Warren MI/Blues).

Making their Olympic debut are Jason Blake (Moorhead MN/Islanders), Erik Cole (Oswego, NY/Hurricanes), Craig Conroy (Potsdam, NY/Kings), Brian Gionta (Rochester NY/Devils), Scott Gomez (Anchorage, AK/Devils), Mike Knuble (Toronto, ON/Flyers).

I was happy to see Cole’s name on the roster as well as Gomez and Gionta. All of those guys are hard working players and contribute to the team. Gionta is the goal scorer for the US, having the best scoring record to date.

Disappointed to not see Tony Amonte and Eric Weinrich not on the roster as both are favorites of mine. I was surprised that Roenick was not named, but I don’t think he earned his spot for the winter Olympics in Turin Italy.

As usual, no Capitals made the US roster as the Wash Post reports. Jeff Halpern, Ben Clymer and Chris Clark were all passed up for this Olympic bid for gold. Brent Johnson could also be considered, but has not played the games or has much to show for officials to consider his chances.

The Capitals won’t be without any representation in Turin however, Alex Ovechkin will likely be on the Russian squad, Ivan Majesky will represent Slovakia, and Olaf Kolzig will start in net for the German squad.

I think the U.S. team looks solid. A nice mixture of veteran and youth combine should make for a good team core. Who will start in net of course will be the big question. I like Grahame of late. He has helped his team make the Southeast Division more of a race that a blow out by Carolina.

Now all we have to do is wait for Canada to announce their roster, wonder if they will do it during a OLN broadcast. Doubt it.

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