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Swiss can't be overlooked as USA begins tournament

Tuesday, 02.16.2010 / 12:00 PM

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

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Swiss can't be overlooked as USA begins tournament
United States vs. Switzerland
SWITZERLAND (0-0-0-0) vs. USA (0-0-0-0)

NOTE: records are presented as three-point wins (regulation time), two-point wins (OT or shootout), one-point losses (OT or shootout), zero-point losses (regulation time).
 
What to watch -- The 2010 Olympic tournament kicks off with one of the most intriguing matchups of the preliminary round. While Team USA will be favored in this game, it is no slam dunk, especially if the Americans can't find their game early. The Swiss team can skate with anybody in this tournament and has pulled off upsets in the past. In fact, Switzerland stunned both the Canadians and Czechs in the preliminary round four years ago.
 
For the Swiss, it may all come down to goaltending. Four years ago, Martin Gerber stood on his head against the Canadians -- now it is Jonas Hiller, the starting goalie for the Anaheim Ducks, who will try to play giant slayer.
 
"That's what we will do tomorrow," Hiller said. "We'll try to play a perfect game and then we will have a chance."
 
Team Reports:

 
Switzerland -- This is the final Olympic hurrah for national team coach Ralph Krueger, who is stepping down later this year after doing a masterful job of rebuilding the Swiss national program during the past 13 years.
 
Defenseman Mark Streit, who plays for the New York Islanders, has been with Krueger almost every step of the way as the Swiss have battled into the elite eight of hockey-playing nations. He says that Krueger's impending retirement has given the squad extra incentive.
 
"It's been a lot of good memories and a lot of good times," Streit said Monday. "We all, as a team, want to do really well and have a great tournament."
 
Streit, who could play upwards of 30 minutes a game, and Hiller are the only two NHLers on the Swiss roster
 
USA -- The Americans are not taking the Swiss lightly. They have scouted the exhibition games the Swiss have played in the run-up to the Olympics, as well as last year's meeting in the World Championships, a 4-3 OT loss in the second round of the tournament.
 
But they understand that the Swiss will have the advantage of having played and practiced together as a team for the better part of the past week, while the Americans had a grand total of one practice together.
 
"The preparation time, you don't have very much," coach Ron Wilson said. "We'll just have to adjust on the fly as we face the Swiss team on Tuesday. The challenge is building chemistry in a hurry. It's a big chemistry test."
 
And that process begins Tuesday in a very tricky game against a dangerous Swiss side.
 
Total NHL players in game --
Switzerland: 2; USA: 23
 
Puck Drop -- Team USA knows that it could have a tough time in this game as it tries to come together with limited practice time. So they are as concerned about that process as they are about the result -- although a win would be preferable.
 
"It's important to start finding your game and get something that you can focus on and use as a positive one way or another," captain Jamie Langenbrunner said Sunday. "Winning would definitely be the best thing. The key for us is to start playing well right away and build. You don't need to play your best game on Day 1, you need to do it as you are moving forward and hopefully we understand that."
 
NHL.com predicts -- The Americans win this game, but it won't be easy. Chemistry among the forward lines will take some time to develop and even when good chances arrive, Hiller will be equal to the challenge more often than not.

United States
# Forwards Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
42 D. Backes STL 6'3" 221 5/1/1984 Minneapolis, MN
23 D. Brown LAK 6'0" 212 11/4/1984 Ithaca, NY
24 R. Callahan NYR 5'11" 180 3/21/1985 Rochester, NY
88 P. Kane CHI 5'11" 181 1/19/1988 Buffalo, NY
17 R. Kesler VAN 6'2" 202 8/31/1984 Livonia, MI
81 P. Kessel TOR 6'0" 202 10/2/1987 Madison, WI
74 T.J. Oshie STL 5'11" 189 12/23/1986 Warroad, MN
67 M. Pacioretty MTL 6'2" 219 11/20/1988 New Canaan, CT
9 Z. Parise MIN 5'11" 190 7/28/1984 Minneapolis, MN
8 J. Pavelski SJS 5'11" 190 7/11/1984 Plover, WI
26 P. Stastny COL 6'0" 205 12/27/1985 Quebec City, QC, CAN
12 D. Stepan NYR 6'0" 196 6/18/1990 Hastings, MN
21 J. van Riemsdyk TOR 6'3" 200 5/4/1989 Middletown, NJ
28 B. Wheeler WPG 6'5" 205 8/31/1986 Robbinsdale, MN
# Defense Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
4 J. Carlson WSH 6'3" 212 1/10/1990 Colonia, NJ
72 J. Faulk CAR 6'0" 215 3/20/1992 South St. Paul, MN
3 C. Fowler ANA 6'1" 196 3/5/1991 Farmington Hills, MI
7 P. Martin PIT 6'1" 200 3/5/1981 Elk River, MN
27 R. McDonagh NYR 6'1" 213 6/13/1989 St. Paul, MN
44 B. Orpik PIT 6'2" 219 9/26/1980 Amherst, NY
22 K. Shattenkirk STL 5'11" 207 1/29/1989 Greenwich, CT
20 R. Suter MIN 6'1" 198 1/21/1985 Madison, WI
# Goalies Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
35 J. Howard DET 6'0" 218 3/26/1984 Syracuse, NY
39 R. Miller BUF 6'2" 175 7/17/1980 East Lansing, MI
32 J. Quick LAK 6'1" 218 1/21/1986 Milford, CT
Switzerland
# Forwards Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
10 A. Ambühl 5'9" 192 9/14/1983 Davos, SUI
48 M. Bieber 5'11" 187 3/14/1986 Zürich, SUI
23 S. Bodenmann 5'10" 187 3/2/1988 Urnäsch, SUI
96 D. Brunner NJD 5'10" 185 3/9/1986 Zürich, SUI
12 L. Cunti 6'0" 187 7/4/1989 Zürich, SUI
51 R. Gardner 6'6" 227 4/18/1978 Toronto, ON
70 D. Hollenstein 6'0" 194 10/15/1989 Mosnang, SUI
82 S. Moser NSH 6'2" 214 3/10/1989 Bern, SUI
22 N. Niederreiter MIN 6'2" 209 9/8/1992 Chur, SUI
28 M. Plüss 5'9" 187 4/5/1977 Bülach, SUI
88 K. Romy 6'0" 194 1/31/1985 La Chax-de-Fonds, SUI
24 R. Suri 6'0" 185 3/25/1989 Zürich, SUI
43 M. Trachsler 6'0" 198 7/15/1984 Zürich, SUI
14 R. Wick 6'2" 207 12/30/1985 Zuzwil, SUI
# Defense Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
5 S. Blindenbacher 5'11" 194 3/15/1983 Bülach, SUI
16 R. Diaz VAN 5'11" 197 1/9/1986 Baar, SUI
90 R. Josi NSH 6'1" 192 6/1/1990 Bern, SUI
31 M. Seger 5'11" 190 12/17/1977 Ermatingen, SUI
7 M. Streit PHI 5'11" 191 12/11/1977 Bern, SUI
3 J. Vauclair 6'0" 203 10/2/1979 Bure, SUI
72 P. von Gunten 5'11" 183 2/10/1985 Sigriswil, SUI
6 Y. Weber VAN 5'11" 200 9/23/1988 Morges, SUI
# Goalies Club HT WT DOB Birthplace
R. Berra CGY 6'4" 194 1/3/1987 Bülach, SUI
J. Hiller ANA 6'2" 192 2/12/1982 Felben Wellhausen, SUI
T. Stephan 6'3" 187 1/21/1984 Zürich, SUI