Obviously, there were a lot of nice things in the U.S.’s 5-3 win over the Russians (assuming you’re not Russian).
You had to love Keith Tkachuk’s four goals.
You had to love the U.S. grit.
You had to love Robert Esche’s goaltending, especially during some of Russia’s power plays.
You had to love seeing Jason Blake get a penalty shot.
There was a lot of really good stuff in the game. But there was also some cause for alarm.
Did anyone else notice that only one line was really producing for the U.S.?
Did anyone else notice that unless your jersey said Modano, Guerin, or Tkachuk on the back, you weren’t really scoring?
Coach Ron Wilson’s next big challenge will be to spread the scoring out. The U.S. was pretty lucky in that Russia never really seemed to try and match lines. But whenever the U.S. ends up playing Canada, Team Canada coach Pat Quinn will know to use his big bodies against the only U.S. line that can consistently score. So Wilson needs to find another three players who can generate some scoring opportunites. Doug Weight had some great chances against Russia, but he wasn’t in the zone he couldn’t finish any of his shots. Scott Gomez had a great night, including a non-Tkachuk-scored goal, but he’s really more of a set-up man. The truth is, flying in the face of the “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” maxim of sports, Wilson might want to consider breaking up his best line, perhaps giving Gomez the trigger man he needs. Gomez got a goal playing with Tkachuk. Why not try pairing them for a bit? The U.S. has already gotten further into the World Cup than anyone thought they would have after those awful first two preliminary games. Maybe Wilson should get a little fast and loose now.