men olympic hockey usa vs swiss

Olympic Hockey, Day 1: USA Earns Convincing 3-1 Win Over Swiss In Opener

David Backes and Ryan Malone scored in a big second period to lead the United States past Switzerland to kick of men's hockey in Vancouver.

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USA Gets Good Win, Still A Long Way To Go

For a young and inexperienced USA team, getting off to good start was going to be invaluable to their overall success in Vancouver. Opening against a decent but ultimately less-talented Switzerland was a good test for the United States, and after a nice 3-1 win the Americans can now focus on repairing some glaring issues that could be their downfall when the games become much bigger.

From the drop of the puck it instantly apparent that this was a team that is speedy, talented and very green when it comes to Olympic play. The USA started off strong with some amped up play before backing down a bit when the nerves settled down and Switzerland started to take advantage of the American's mistakes. Yet Ryan Miller made several timely saves and the the United States took advantage with a big goal to end the first period.

The USA came out much more confident in the second, laying two goals on Switzerland to extend their lead to 3-0 headed into the third intermission. With a decent lead and the game in their control, how the Americans would come out in the third would be a big litmus test for this young team. And if their performance in the final 20 minutes was any indication, they still have a long way to go.

The Swiss were desperate in the third, and put much more pressure on the United States and abandoned their safe, trap style they had played with for most of the game. There were numerous odd-man rushes allowed by the USA, too many close chances and only some big saves by Ryan Miller kept the game from becoming closer than the ultimate final score.

The turnovers were troubling, as was the eagerness by the defense to try and pinch at the wrong times, allowing yet another chance down the ice. Many see the USA defense as their biggest weakness and despite some spirited play by Erik Johnson, that weakness was exploited by the Swiss on a number of occasions.

It was a good win, one that showed the potential this young team has. If the top line of Zach Parise, Paul Statsny and Patrick Kane can start producing goals then the USA has a potent offensive attack. Yet just as many believed before the Olympics started, this is a team that is going to rely on the play of Ryan Miller to cover up the mistakes this team will ultimately make.

The United States next takes on Norway, 3:00 p.m. EST on USA Network.

To discuss today's game with fellow hockey fans, please join our live thread located here.

MoreSB Nation’s full coverage of the Winter Olympics and the 2010 Winter Olympics Medal Count Tracker.

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Switzerland Scores Midway Through Third, 3-1 Now

The United States played a strong and impressive third period to build a three-goal lead, but they seemed to come out in the third period content to sit on the lead. Switzerland came out determined, and Ryan Miller has been forced to make several big saves. Unfortunately, one shot puck handcuffed him a bit as it rode up his stick and slipped over his leg pad to get the Swiss on the board midway through the third period.

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Strong Goaltending And Scary Offense Leading USA Into Second Intermission

Team USA came out pumped, speedy and amped up to start the game yet had to deal with some Olympic jitters as they adjusted to this big international stage. They avoided near disaster and scored just minutes later to head into the first period ahead 1-0, but there was certainly some issues the Americans needed to fix, namely on the power play.

In the second period, it appeared they were much more comfortable as a team and using some big stops by Ryan Miller vaulted ahead of Switzerland 3-0. David Backes took a puck off of Miller's pads and went goal line to goal line along the left boards, racing past the Swiss defenders before scoring on a scrambling Jonas Hiller.

Yet it was Ryan Malone's power play goal that showed that the United States is not just speed and flash, but has the power to score from the tough areas on the ice. Erik Johnson's blast from the point was blocked down low, and Malone beat out two Swiss defensemen to the puck before sweeping it under Hiller's pads.

Ryan Miller has not been tested much, but he's made some timely stops when the team needed them the most. Shots are 22-9 in favor of the United States headed into the third period.

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USA Goes Up 3-0 With Goals By Malone And Backes

Just as towards the end of the first period, a prime scoring opportunity was created off a big save by Ryan Miller and the US defense, as David Backes drove the left boards and muscled his way around the defense before burying the puck past Jonas Hiller.

The United States had come out firing in the second period, laying shot after shot on Hiller and maintaining heavy pressure on the Swiss.

Just a few minutes later, Ryan Malone put Team USA up 3-0 with a power play goal when he pushed a puck through a scrambling Hiller.

So far, so good for the young Americans.

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More: SB Nation’s full coverage of the Winter Olympics and the 2010 Winter Olympics Medal Count Tracker.

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Bobby Ryan Puts USA Ahead 1-0 Headed Into 1st Intermission

Team USA avoided near disaster with a number of turnovers in their own zone, when a loose puck sneaked past a scrambling Ryan Miller and into the open crease. Yet Switzerland wasn't able to take advantage as the US defenders swept the puck out of the slot and away from danger.

Just a minute later, Bobby Ryan jumped on turnover in the top of the slot and slammed a hard shot past Jonas Hiller.

It was a big goal in the final minutes of the first period, that validated some strong and speedy play without anything to show for it earlier in the period.

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More: SB Nation’s full coverage of the Winter Olympics and the 2010 Winter Olympics Medal Count Tracker.

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USA Shows Talent And Speed Early

The top line of Zach Parise, Paul Statsny and Patrick Kane instantly showed the potential they have to be dynamic during the olympics, getting a number of prime chances just minutes into the game. Swiss goaltender Jonas Hiller had to make several acrobatic saves to keep the game scoreless.

This is also a game of speed and talent versus size and grit, as Switzerland seems intent on pounding the United States into submission. The undersized Americans have controlled play for most of the period, yet have not been able to take advantage of the chances they've forced thus far.

0-0 midway through the first period.

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Olympic Hockey: USA Takes On Switzerland In First Test

3 PM ET / Noon PT : United States vs Switzerland in Group A action

Broadcast details: Live coverage on USA Network

Team USA will face off against a far inferior Swiss team, but that doesn't mean the Americans can take them lightly. While members of the USA squad have been playing on their club teams in the NHL, most of the Swiss players have been practicing together and developing chemistry. The Americans will be playing their first game together - ever - while Switzerland has been together for several games.

Besides that, the Swiss have a dominant goaltender in Jonas Hiller of the Anaheim Ducks. He beat out a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner in Jean-Sebastien Giguere for the starting job in Anaheim and he just recently signed a four year contract extension. The 28-year-old is a confident, well-positioned goaltender who could easily frustrate the Americans, who lack threatening secondary scoring.

Ryan Miller will start in goal for the USA, as expected for months.

To discuss today's game with fellow hockey fans, please join our live thread located here.

More: SB Nation’s full coverage of the Winter Olympics and the 2010 Winter Olympics Medal Count Tracker.

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