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.