Paul Stastny

Zach Parise sees benefits of big ice for U.S. men’s hockey

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After one impressive win, The U.S. men’s hockey team looks like it has the potential to be a powerful team. But how do they feel about the bigger ice surface, which is supposed to befuddle North American skaters?

Different United States players seemed to give different answers to Puck Daddy.

On one hand, you have team captain Zach Parise, who believes that the U.S. used its speed especially well over a larger surface.

“We almost used it to our advantage with our speed and taking the puck wide,” Parise said.

Paul Stastny seemed to warn against using that speed too much, however.

“The ice is big,” Statsny said. “We try to transition the game, and try to get good puck possession on the D-zone. You try to play a run-and-gun game and you’re going to be exhausted.”

David Backes was in the middle; he believes that the United States required “a feeling out process” in the first period before playing well in the second.

All of that aside, it’s just one game, and Russia is likely to provide a far more intense tense than Slovakia. Sticking with the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin is a difficult task on rinks in the NHL and overseas.

Besides, as Canadian head coach Mike Babcock notes, it’s not always as simple as the ice being bigger.

“What I learned tonight about the big ice is the big ice isn’t very big,” Babcock said to PHT. “What I mean by that is the offensive zone is way smaller, length-wise. So the D have a harder time getting to the middle to shoot the puck. So our active D got chances, our D sliding got no chances; they can get to you way quicker.”

In the end, that might be the real tantalizing thing. The United States stocked up on young, attacking defensemen. While that raises questions about their readiness for Olympic play, they very well might be able to be one of the most active units in Sochi.

Then again, Russia’s attack might change the tone of such discussions by the time Saturday’s game is over.