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Is lack of offense a cause for concern for U.S.?

by Mike G. Morreale

In successive losses to Russia and Canada at the 2013 World Junior Championship, the U.S. National Junior Team has only managed two goals.

Both those markers have come off the stick of a defenseman -- Jacob Trouba.

The United States had eight different goal scorers in an 8-0 victory over Germany in its tournament opener on Thursday, including one each from forwards Sean Kuraly, Alex Galchenyuk, Riley Barber, J.T. Miller and Ryan Hartman.

Now facing a must-win situation against Slovakia on Monday in Group B play, that win over Germany seems like an eternity ago right about now for U.S. fans.

Trouba, who has been the country's best defenseman through three games of the tournament, also leads the team with three goals. Besides goalie John Gibson, Trouba has certainly done his share.

U.S. coach Phil Housley was asked if the lack of production from his forwards is a cause for concern.

"It's one thing if we're not getting the chances … then you might get concerned," Housley told "But, right now, in these last two games, we've had chances. We just need to bury one of those early ones or get a bounce."

Against Russia, John Gaudreau had a golden opportunity to give the Americans an early lead but his shot off a 3-on-1 breakout was stopped by the left skate of sliding Russian goalie Andrei Makarov. In the first period against Canada, and his team trailing, 1-0, Gaudreau saw another good chance slip away when his breakaway attempt was turned away by Malcolm Subban.

"Granted, the goalies have been playing very well, and we realize that we need to get those one and second-chance opportunities," Housley said. "I'm not overly concerned since we are getting chances."

Makarov finished with 41 saves for Russia against the U.S. On Sunday, Subban had his best showing of the tournament with 36 saves. The inability to finish around the opposing net is certainly spoiling a great opportunity being provided by goalie Gibson, who sports a 1.52 goals-against average and .950 save percentage in three appearances.

A victory over Slovakia on Monday, however, and the U.S. will earn a berth into the medal round. The game is slated for 5 a.m. ET (NHLN-US).

"Against Slovakia, we have destiny in our own hands and I like that," Housley said. "I like the way we played [the last two games] and I think getting a goal early would spark our team. If you get new life, and win the right games in this tournament, anything can happen. We understand the ramifications of this next game, but I think our guys will be ready."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale

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