Team USA shit the bed, losing 3-0 to Team Europe. If they don’t get a point from Canada tomorrow night, their tournament is probably over. (So it’s probably over.) Bummer, after all that hype. But—ah!—the World Cup of Hockey had just this scenario in mind, when they created your perfect backup team to root for. Team North America, we are 100 percent on board.
Team North America—the young guns, Americans and Canadians 23 and under—dominated a very good Finland team in their group play opener. It was a 4-1 win, and they outshot the Finns 43-25 even with an early lead. North America is, as expected, fast as hell. And that didn’t merely translate to an end-to-end game, though they certainly took the puck up the ice with noticeable alacrity—it showed up in the way they pounced on loose pucks, and darted through the Finnish coverage.
And they’re fun! They’re having fun! You could see the players standing on the bench, leaning over to get a good look at each rush. They love watching each other every bit as much as we do.
Coach Todd McLellan rolled his lines with impressive evenness, with every player seeing between 12 and 16 minutes of ice time. This team, especially the forwards, are so, so deep, and so talented—this is no B team, not when they can send the likes of Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, and Jack Eichel against you on a power play, as they did on the opening goal.
Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, Jonathan Drouin, and Nathan MacKinnon all scored for the young guns, before Finland got one back against goaltender Matt Murray.
“They got better, they won every battle, they skate hard, they are so aggressive,” Finland coach Lauri Marjamaki said. Such a great team.”
We knew the speed would be there, but the skills on North America’s scorers are still a thing of awe. I can’t believe Gaudreau was able to get a stick on this deflection.
There is still plenty of room about the Team NA bandwagon, but hop on now: Tonight they face a cornered, talented Russian team that needs a win to have any hope of moving on. There are still real questions about their defense and their goaltending, and about their seasoning once they face veteran teams like Sweden. But hell, this is quite possibly the fastest, flashiest hockey team ever assembled. They deserve your fandom.