Unfortunately, I will only have a summary of the first game today (USA Blue vs Sweden). Real jobs that pay money unfortunately have to take precedence over hobbies.
USA Team Blue vs Team Sweden
Today's starting lineup for the USA Team was as follows:
|Team USA Blue|
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Left Defense||Right Defense|
And for Team Sweden it was:
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|de la Rose||Sundqvist||Sandberg|
|Left Defense||Right Defense|
As before, Caps prospects are highlighted with ***.
Team USA dug a hole for itself very early in the game when Caps prospect Connor Carrick took a holding penalty just 1:26 into the first period. The Swedish power play wasted very little time scoring a mere 12 seconds into the power play off of the won faceoff. Collberg got the goal with assists to Wennberg and Possler.
After he got out of the box, Carrick tried to make amends by making a very nice breakout pass to another Caps prospect, Riley Barber, who then managed to skate past the left defense and take a nice shot on goal in close. He failed to score but the moves were impressive nonetheless. Minutes later, on his next shift, Barber made another really nice move as he entered the zone on the left side, carried the puck deep into the corner and then managed to cut back and bring the puck to the net. Once again, his shot was stopped by Hogberg.
Halfway through the first period, both teams appeared to have equal opportunities but Sweden held the lead with their power play goal. Then, Team USA's Justin Bailey was called for elbowing and the Swedish power play did their magic scoring within the first minute of the penalty taking their lead to 2. This was another Collberg goal from Possler and Wallmark. The remaining of the period belonged to Team Sweden. By my count, following the power play goal, Sweden had 14 shot attempts to Team USA's 4. Team USA then added to their discomfort when Riley Barber took a late period high sticking penalty.
The second period started with Team USA still killing the Barber penalty from the first period and almost immediately after they managed to kill it, they took yet another penalty. This time is was Skjei for cross-checking. However, the penalty killing unit seemed to have their legs at this point and held Sweden to just one shot on goal.
Both teams evened their chances for the next 5 minutes until Sweden scored a third goal off the crossbar. This time it was Possler getting an assist from Collberg. Although the fans in the stands were starting to get uncomfortable, Team USA didn't seem too distraught and a few minutes later they scored a goal from the left point through a crowd of players. It was pretty clear that by the time Hogberg saw the puck, he didn't have a chance to do anything about it. This goal was credited to Will Butcher with assists to Stefan Matteau and Brady Vail.
30 seconds later, Anton Lindholm of Team Sweden charged and crushed Stefan Matteau to the ice. Matteau suffered some sort of facial injury (nose or mouth, I couldn't tell because he was holding a bloody towel to his face as he left the ice). Lindholm was then given a 5 minute major for charging and a game misconduct. Team USA took to the ice for their major power play and despite some nice shooting by Connor Carrick early on, they failed to score.
I should note that Caps prospect Anton Burakovsky was held off the ice until towards the end of the penalty kill situation. However, Sweden's penalty kill early in the game was much more reserved than it was yesterday when they reminded me of the NJ penalty killing unit from 2011-12. Once Burakovsky took the ice, that changed remarkably. Burakovsky was clearly given direction to forecheck aggressively when on the PK. He managed to rag the puck by himself in Team USA's defensive zone to kill the remaining time on the major penalty.
Burakovsky was put on in a number of PK situations in the second half of the game and each time he took the ice, the PK unit took on a different personality. Along these same lines, I also noticed the coach would cut Burakovsky's line's shift short if there was to be defensive zone faceoff. At first I wondered if it was a lack of confidence in Burakovsky's defensive skills but later on I wondered if it had more to do with the center on his line (Wallmark) and his faceoff skills. Whatever the case may be, I found the coach's use of Burakovsky interesting today.
Near the end of the second period, Team USA got another chance on the power play when Daniel Zaar was called for hooking. This time, as the USA Team entered the offensive zone on a rush, they managed to collapse Sweden's defense and score. Erne from Carrick and Butcher.
15 seconds later (with just 14 seconds left in the period), one of those hits you never want to see happened. I am still not sure which Swedish player it was (I thought it was Wallmark but if it was, he returned in the 3rd period), but he had his head driven into the stanchion at the end of the Team Sweden bench ala Zdeno Chara on Max Pacioretty. While I don't think it was an intentional hit, it was a scary one. The player did manage, after some time, to stand up and step off the ice. No penalty was called on Team USA but a bench penalty was assessed to Team Sweden because the coach went ballistic and used a number of words not suitable for the children in the stands to hear.
After two periods, Team Sweden still had the lead 3-2.
To start the third, Team USA was unable to capitalize on the bench penalty. They only managed one shot on goal (in fact I think it was the only attempt as well) during the power play. At this point, Team Sweden again began to take control of the game forcing Carrick to take a cross-checking penalty just 3 minutes into the period. Despite some power play pressure, Team USA held off Team Sweden and then managed to get a break when Filip Sandberg of Sweden was called for high sticking. Team USA managed to get two nice shots on goal but Hogberg was up to the challenge once again.
Team USA proceeded to self-destruct. First Toninato took a roughing minor. Less than a minute into his penalty, Thompson added to the problem by tripping someone. This left Team Sweden on a 5-3 power play. To be honest, it took them longer than I thought it would but about 45 seconds later, Team Sweden scored again to go up by two. This time it was Wennberg from Zaar and Caps prospect Djoos.
Team USA came out after this goal with new determination. After putting some serious pressure on Sweden, Sweden was forced into committing their own tripping penalty (Possler). The power play was fast and furious getting 5-6 shots on goal by my count but none would go past Hogberg. It was during this penalty kill situation, that Burakovsky was put on the ice for the last 45 seconds of the PK and it seemed to remove the Team USA pressure on the goal.
At this point, Team USA was getting desperate as the clock was ticking down. Team Sweden went into a shell for 5 minutes and no one made much of threat on the other until with just a little over two minutes remaining, Butcher pinched in from the left point, taking a pass from behind the net from Hinostroza and banging home a really nice shot in the far corner of the net. The other assist was attributed to Kerdiles.
With just two minutes, remaining, Team USA pulled their goalie in a hope of achieving what the Finns did to them the day before. But, alas, their 8 remaining shot attempts resulted in only one shot on goal and Team Sweden held on for the win, 4-3.