At the end of a game, in most cases, all that matters is the scoreboard. However, the scoreboard was not the top priority for the U.S. at the recently completed Deutschland Cup.
While Team USA left Germany winless, there were positive signs for the U.S. as it continues to evaluate potential players for the Olympic roster this February.
The U.S. fell to Slovakia (2-1), Russia (5-2) and Germany (5-1) over the course of the three-day tournament, which wrapped up on Sunday at Curt Frenzel Stadium in Augsburg, Germany.
Believers in analytics, the inside-the-game statistics that more and more NHL teams are beginning to utilize, would suggest that Team USA was astonishingly unlucky this past weekend.
On Friday, for instance, USA outshot Slovakia by a wide margin (36-16) yet fell 2-1.
”Obviously you’d love to win, but when the other goalie’s the best player on the ice, it doesn’t matter how much you do,” U.S. coach Tony Granato said. ”They found ways to make it hard for us around the net and when we were able to get something through, their goalie was the best player on the ice.”
On the weekend, Team USA outshot opponents 96-60 (61.5 percent of possession) but was outscored 12-4.
Put as simply as possible, the U.S. had far more scoring opportunities than their opponents, but didn't capitalize.
“While we’re certainly disappointed with the result, this tournament has been a real positive in terms of the evaluation process as we head toward the Olympics," Granato said.
“This event provided the opportunity for our coaching and support staff as well as players to get to know each other in advance of the Olympics," added U.S. General Manager Jim Johannson. "Not all of the players on this team will make our eventual Olympic roster, and that’s the tough part. This was a terrific group of guys who care about our country and are passionate about representing the U.S. in the Olympics. We’re in for some tough decisions.”
“If you looked at the games and saw the opportunities we had, you would’ve thought that the scoreboard would look a lot different at the end of the games,” said Granato. “We created those chances. We just didn’t score. There were parts of lots of games where we were in complete control of the game territorially.”
Garrett Roe (2 assists), Chad Kolarik (1 goal, 1 assist) and Mark Arcobello (1 goal, 1 assist) were all multi-point scorers for Team USA in the tournament. Arcobello, Matt Gilroy and Brian Gionta were named the three Players of the Game for the U.S.
The coaching and management staff will now regroup and continue the challenge of putting together a roster for PyeongChang. The athlete pool will include players from this past weekend's tournament as well as college players and those playing on AHL only contracts.
“I think we learned about where we’re at,” Granato said. “The whole purpose of the tournament was get evaluations, see where you’re at. There were lots of positives, but when you don’t win some games, at the end of the day, you’ve got to stay with the process of why we we’re here.
“That’s what we’ll do: move forward, try to learn from what happened and put together the team that we think can compete, do well and win in South Korea.”
The final Olympic roster will consist of 25 players and it will be announced by USA Hockey at the NHL Winter Classic, scheduled for Jan. 1 at Citi Field in New York.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc