Team United States capsule
Sun Media

Sun Prediction: 5th

Is Team USA going to need another miracle to win Olympic gold?

It kind of looks that way.

As the Americans prepare to open the Olympics, Team USA GM Don Waddell makes no bones about the fact the club is going to need everything to come together perfectly to win the title.

After making a trip to the final against Canada in 2002 on their home soil in Salt Lake City, the USA roster has plenty of questions ... not the least of which is the goaltending. That's because there's not exactly a battle going on for the No. 1 spot.

Tampa's John Grahame, the Islanders' Rick DiPietro and Philadelphia's Robert Esche, who will make up the goaltending tandem here, have all had their share of struggles this season. Even Waddell isn't sure who is going to emerge with the top job, although, some think the best American goalie -- Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres -- will be watching the Olympics on TV.

"We're not really sure who is going to start. They've all played well during different stretches during the season and we've agreed we're going to go with the best guy at the time," Waddell said.

Take a look down the USA roster and there's still the old names such as Doug Weight, Chris Chelios, Mathieu Schneider, Bill Guerin, Keith Tkachuk and Mike Modano. Gone, but not forgotten are Jeremy Roenick, Brett Hull and Mike Richter just to name a few.

"We have a lot of new names on the roster, but they're not necessarily young guys,"said Waddell, GM of the Atlanta Thrashers. "They are guys who have been around, but they haven't gotten the opportunity to compete at this level. That's what we're trying to give them here.

"The older players we kept are guys we're going to rely on. They've been in the tough situations and they're going to know what it takes (to win). That's what we're going to need. Winning a medal isn't going to be easy for us. You've got to win eight games in 12 days to win this tournament, but we're confident with the group that we've assembled."

Perhaps, the biggest asset for the Americans is behind the bench. Coach Peter Laviolette knows what it's like to battle the odds. He didn't get a whole of respect as the bench boss of the New York Islanders, but he has made everybody stand up to take notice by leading the Carolina Hurricanes to first place in the Southeast Division despite the fact the team was picked to be among the worst in the NHL this season. He has gotten every ounce out of the Hurricanes' players and he'll have Team USA well prepared.

"I know Peter well and I know what he can bring to a team," Waddel said. "He's a young coach who is well respected by the players and he's going to put a good plan in place for them every night."