After playing back-to-back nights to open the tournament, the U.S. Men's National Team had an optional practice this morning. Six players -- goaltender Charlie Lindgren (Lakeville, Minn.); defensemen Will Butcher (Sun Prairie, Wis.), Connor Murphy (Dublin, Ohio) and Nick Jensen (St. Paul, Minn.); and forwards Brian Gibbons (Braintree, Mass.) and Sonny Milano (Massapequa, N.Y.) -- took the ice at KVIK Hockey Arena, just a short bus ride from Jyske Bank Boxen.
U.S. STATS THROUGH TWO
With two games in the books, here's how Team USA's player stats shake out. Chris Kreider (Boxford, Mass.) leads the team in both points (4) and assists (3) while Cam Atkinson (Riverside, Conn.) and Dylan Larkin (Waterford, Mich.) are tied for the team lead in goals at two apiece. Among defensemen, Will Butcher (Sun Prairie, Wis.) and Nick Jensen (St. Paul, Minn.) share the lead in points with two. Keith Kinkaid (Farmingville, N.Y.), the starter in both of Team USA's games, holds a 1.92 goals against average, .938 save percentage and one shutout. Of Team USA's 19 skaters, 13 have tallied at least one point.
COACH BLASHILL ON TEAM USA DEFENSE
In yesterday's postgame media availability, a number of questions for head coach Jeff Blashill surrounded the play of Team USA defense.
On the defensive corp as a whole: "As a whole, I'd say we like what we've seen and in a lot of ways it's because we see the potential of what we can become. The goal isn't to play our best hockey these first few games; it's to build as a team so that we're playing our best hockey when it matters most. And I think we've seen our defensemen and our team's defensive play improve every game."
On goal-scorers Butcher: "In my mind, Will's the definition of a real complete hockey player. He's someone who can contribute at both ends of the ice, can be relied on, and has a great compete level."
On Martinez: "I've known Alec for a number of years and his intelligence has always been his greatest strength. It's great having him here with us in Denmark and a real leader on our blue line."
On 2018 NHL draft-eligible Hughes: "He's done a number of good things so far. Like some of our other defenders, he has the ability to chip in offensively from the blue line, which is great. It's a great opportunity for him here, not only to play against some elite competition, but to be surrounded by some great fellow American players."
ROSTER SPOTLIGHT: NHL YOUTH HOCKEY PROGRAMS
Two players on Team USA from non-traditional hockey markets spent time in their youth hockey career skating for programs associated with NHL teams. For forward and Plano, Texas, native Blake Coleman, his interest in hockey came from watching the Dallas Stars while growing up. Prior to his joining the USHL where he was named 2011 USHL Forward of the Year, Coleman skated with the Dallas Jr. Stars. Additionally, defenseman and Dublin, Ohio, native Connor Murphy spent part of his youth hockey career with the Ohio Blue Jackets, which is associated with the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, which was founded in 2000 as part of the NHL's expansion.