3 Star keys to success for United States against Switzerland at WJC

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The NHL Network will air every game of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton and WP Centrium in Red Deer, Alberta.

It includes comprehensive coverage of the United States National Junior Team (1-0-0-0), which will play the second of four preliminary-round games in Group B against Switzerland (0-0-0-1) on Tuesday (4:30 p.m. ET). The United States, which won 3-2 against Slovakia on Sunday, also will play Sweden (Dec. 29) and Russia (Dec. 31). The playoff round begins Jan. 2.

Longtime NCAA hockey analyst Dave Starman, who will handle the broadcasts along with Stephen Nelson and Jon Rosen, will give his three keys to victory for the United States before each of its games during the 11-day tournament.

“The United States had a lot of possession time in the offensive zone (17:06), generated 42 shots, including 15 shots from Grade-A areas, with three goals scored, two power-play goals on eight shots, goalie Drew Commesso (Chicago Blackhawks) was very good, and for the most part they defended very well,” Starman said. “There were some bad things, like losing the third period 2-0. You can say they played not to lose, but I think they faced a good skating team playing with urgency and learned a lesson that defending has to be a full-time thing, no matter the score.”

Here are Starman’s 3 keys to victory for the United States against Switzerland:

1. Managing minutes

“[Defenseman] Jake Sanderson (Ottawa Senators) is the horse, but the pairing of Brock Faber (Los Angeles Kings) and Wyatt Kaiser (Chicago Blackhawks) was really good and they played a lot. Sanderson’s ice time was up (22:24) due to extended power-play time, but that second pair was impressive. They were on for the power-play goal-against, but that was a tough play to defend for anyone. Managing Sanderson’s minutes in a back-to-back situation with seven games coming up in 12 days is a concern, so the more minutes Faber and Kaiser can eat, the better. That being said, and not overlooking Switzerland, this could be a game where 5-on-5 defensemen minutes are spread out. Assistant coach Steve Miller runs the defense and his management of personnel is very good.”

2. Breakouts

“U.S. breakouts, both controlled and off broken plays, were good, especially for the second game (including the loss to Finland in a pre-tournament game Thursday). The exits were clean. They generated four or five chances off the rush created by clean breakouts and they were pretty good grabbing the line with possession. Building confidence and consistency in this area will pay dividends as the tournament goes on and the big games come up. It’s an area of focus in practice and the skill level and skating of this team makes this an area that will be a strength. The defense corps is mobile and attacked the next layer very well.”

3. Face-offs

Matty Beniers (Seattle Kraken) is their top face-off guy; he went 9-for-9 [against Slovakia]. Face-offs create possession and wins are important. What I liked was how well they reacted to scrambles and lost draws and coverage off it. Logan Cooley (2022 NHL Draft eligible) showed maturity against some older players on draws. He continues to make this an area of strength, which is [assistant coach] Kris Mayotte’s area on the staff. It will be a continued area of emphasis and is something Mayotte has expertise in, so watch for a continued focus by centers on the dots and the reactions to face-off wins and losses.”

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