After the Fact: Analyzing the US loss to Sweden

We’re back after some time away. After games, we analyze what went well and what didn’t during a Team USA game. Here’s the post mortem of the USA’s 1-0 loss to Sweden yesterday. 

After beating Canada 4-2 on Saturday, the US failed to register a goal as Sweden used a breakaway goal to beat the Americans 1-0 Tuesday. Alex Nylander  went backhand on American netminder  Alex Nedeljkovic to score the eventual game winner.

It was a shame after a great win over Canada and a dominant effort versus Sweden. But the goalies stood out and on their respective head, keeping all but one puck out of both nets.

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  • Team USA outshot the Swedes on a two to one ratio, holding the advantage 46-23. There were several moments, as noted by coach Ron Wilson, where the puck just didn’t get through. The chances were there–they just lacked conversion. Not to mention Sweden’s Linus Soderstrom played out of his mind. When a goalie is hot, he’s hot. And the US couldn’t find a way to get one past him.
  • The Americans were stellar on the penalty kill–turning away all six chances the Swedes had. The Americans yielded a power play goal to Canada on Saturday, but were flawless yesterday.

 

A Closer Look: The Game Winning Goal

One breakdown led to the winning goal and it was a tough one. Take a look at the video and then we hack it apart.

And now to overanalyze.

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The play starts deep in Sweden’s zone. The key here is that defenseman Louie Belpedio is to the right of the net on the goal line. He’s trapped and will have to hustle back to negate a chance. However, at this point in Sweden’s breakout, the US has numbers.

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Belpedio is still behind the play, but he has two forwards and linemate Brandon Fortunato patrolling. Nylander is beginning his full stride at the top of the screen.

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This is the key moment because what was once even numbers led to the quick 2 on 1 that eventually opens up the chance for Nylander. Center Nick Schmaltz goes to change and Nylander springs free without anyone close. Nylander is all alone while two Americans trail the play. Fortunato rightly takes the puckcarrier (Dmytro Timashov), but Nylander coasts alone waiting for a pass.

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Belpedio (obstructed in this view) is desperately trying to catch Nylander who just received the pass from Timashov. Fortunato has no chance to  break up the play as it’s already behind him and being left handed, he has to make a full turn to even try to make a play.  Timashov’s head up play punished the US for a lackluster backcheck.

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Nylander begins his assault on the net. Both Fortunato and Belpedio chase, but Nylander is already a good two strides ahead. It’s up to Nedeljkovic to make a play but he’s absolutely on his own against one of the best prospects in the world.

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Nylander goes forehand-backhand to beat Nedeljkovic, who commits on the forehand. Belpedio looks absolutely gassed as he tried to stop Nylander but in the video, he’s a spectator to the game winner.

Final Thoughts

Honestly? It’s frustrating in the effect that the US outplayed Sweden 5 0n 5, and shorthanded, but were stifled by Soderstrom, who played his rear off.  You give a stick tap and move on.

This is the definition of a moral victory. I hoped for a split as the US drew two very tough teams in their first two contests and they got just that.

They lost to a superior goaltending performance after upending tournament favorite Canada in its first game. Switzerland and Denmark are next on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

 

 

About Nate Brown

Managing Editor of The Red, White and Blue Line Report. Member of Hockey Anonymous. In recovery for the Red Wings and Olympic shortfalls of the 2002 & 2010 Gold Medal Game.
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