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World Juniors

4 'Star' keys to success for U.S. vs. Switzerland

NHL Network analyst Dave Starman sees playing with pace, forechecking, experience among areas of focus

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NHL Network is providing exclusive live telecasts of all games for the United States national junior team at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal.

The United States will play Switzerland in a quarterfinal-round game at Air Canada Centre on Monday (5:30 p.m. ET; Air Canada Centre, NHLN, TSN).

"NHL Now" co-host Steve Mears and NCAA hockey analyst Dave Starman have provided commentary for each U.S. game. Starman believes the game against Switzerland may come down to simple math.

"The U.S. will get a good chunk of Grade A chances and they have guys who can cash in," he said. "They are also a good defensive team that doesn't allow a ton of chances against. They have a deeper roster, better scorers, heavier game, and their goaltending should be too tough an equation for a game Swiss team that doesn't have the depth or game breakers the U.S. has."

Starman has provided for his keys to victory for the United States before each of its games during the 11-day tournament, which runs through Thursday.

Here is his fifth installment, looking at the U.S. game against Switzerland on Monday:


1. Dictate the pace

"The United States has shown it can play up-tempo but also has been able to take the temperature of a game and slow the pace down when needed. The Swiss are similar to the Russians. They have a big line, a couple of defensemen who can go. After that, it's more workmanlike with success coming more from effort and tenacity. The U.S. puck possession game with the skill and speed could give the Swiss more trouble than they can handle."  


2. Pound the Swiss defense early

"That doesn't mean 1980s style dump-it-in-and-clobber-the-defenseman going back. It means continue the soft chip, foot race, ground game type style they have utilized to establish offensive zone time and wear teams out. In a game under the goal line, the Swiss defense doesn't have the size to handle Jordan Greenway, Tage Thompson, Joey Anderson, or Tanner Laczynski, who has been terrific anchoring the fourth line. The Swiss would have trouble in a heavy game, and the U.S. has the pounds to win that type of war of attrition."


3. Make sure 2+2=4

"If you're controlling the pace and winning the quiet zones and walls then the final piece of the puzzle is finishing chances, and that's something the U.S. has done well. There has been some consternation about missed chances and missed nets from Grade A areas, but overall the U.S. has been pretty good in the blue paint and those areas. The power play against Canada early in the game won it for them after converting on two great chances, both involving Greenway. If the plan is to skate the Swiss into a pace they can't handle and win a ton of puck races and wall battles, the scorers must convert off those possessions, and they've done that."

Video: WJC Preliminary Round Highlights: USA 3, CAN 1

(BONUS) 4. Experience

"These one-and-done games get tricky. You come out slow, get into penalty trouble early, give up a bad goal early and you can get fragile. I've watched it happen to many favorites in my nine years as an analyst for this tournament. The coaching staff, all from the NCAA, have been through multiple one-and-done games in the NCAA tournament and understand the mentality of how to manage this type of game, and that's a big advantage."

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