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World Juniors

3 'Star' keys to success for U.S. against Russia

NHL Network analyst Dave Starman sees taking the lead, handling adversity important areas of focus

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com 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 defeated Latvia 6-1 on Monday and Slovakia 5-2 on Wednesday. It plays two more preliminary-round games in Group B at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, against Russia on Thursday (3:30 p.m. ET) and Canada on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET).

The playoff round begins at Air Canada Centre and Bell Centre in Montreal on Monday.

"NHL Now" co-host Steve Mears and NCAA hockey analyst Dave Starman will provide commentary for each U.S. game. Starman will give NHL.com his three keys to victory for the United States before each of its games during the 11-day tournament, which runs through Jan. 5.

Here is his third installment, looking at the U.S. game against Russia on Thursday:

 

1. Play with the lead

"This is the third game in four nights for the United States and the second in less than 24 hours. Chasing games when you're in this stretch is not easy. The team that has scored first in every game in this tourney has won the game."

 

2. Win the ground game

"The U.S. has a ton of skill, but where they have been really effective is soft chips to corners and quiet zones and winning races to those pucks. They have quietly established good offensive-zone pressure that has allowed them to spend a lot of time north of the red line. Defending is tiring; attacking gets the adrenaline pumping. How willing are the Russian defensemen going to take a consistent pounding from U.S. forwards Tage Thompson, Jordan Greenway, Tanner Laczynski, Joey Anderson and Luke Kunin? How much time and patience will they have to chase Jeremy Bracco, Clayton Keller and Colin White? Time of possession will be a factor."

 

3. Adversity

"The U.S. faced little to no huge momentum swings or adversity through two games. The Russians already played Canada, so they are battle tested and have a loss on their ledger. The U.S. hasn't had a bad bounce, bad call, bad goal or freaky play go against them yet. If it does, we'll see the need for composure and emotional maturity, which they haven't had a need for yet. I think this is an underlying factor [Thursday]."

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