Here's a look at the 25-man roster named by USA Hockey on Jan. 1.
Goaltenders Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings Scott Burnside:
His numbers are only average, and he's missed much of the first half with a groin injury. But he's still penciled in as the starter in Sochi based on his ability to deliver the goods when the money's on the table. Have to imagine he'll have a pretty short leash when the tournament starts.
Pierre LeBrun: His long-term injury absence has opened the door for Ryan Miller to challenge him for the No. 1 spot in Sochi. However, his body of work, including the 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy and his solid playoff performance last spring that took the Kings to the Western finals, suggest he's very much in line for starts in Sochi.
Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres Burnside:
Not only did he play his way from the shadows onto the U.S. roster, but Miller is essentially a 1A netminder. It won't surprise us at all that he becomes the goalie of record as the tournament progresses and the games become more meaningful.
LeBrun: For my money, Miller is playing his best since 2010, when he was named Olympic tournament MVP in leading Team USA to silver. His performance on a horrid Sabres team this season has been Vezina-worthy.
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings Burnside:
One of the most controversial picks as Howard has been average at best, and often worse than that for long stretches, plus is coming off a knee injury. Howard was selected based on his playoff experience ahead of Cory Schneider
and Ben Bishop
, both of whom played far better this season.
LeBrun: Frankly, I'm surprised Howard made it after a mediocre first three months to the season, but this is about body of work in his case. He had a strong playoffs last spring that factored into his inclusion.
Defense Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild Burnside:
Suter easily leads all NHL players in average ice time per game for the Wild, and he'll do the same at the Olympics. Look for him to play with Paul Martin
and anchor a defense that has lots of youth.
LeBrun: Team USA's No. 1 blueliner will lead the Olympic team in ice time just like he does for the Minnesota. Suter will be an absolute workhorse in Sochi.
Paul Martin, Pittsburgh Penguins Burnside:
Martin is coming off a broken tibia, but he is considered the perfect partner for Suter, even though as a left-handed shot he'll be playing his off-side.
LeBrun: The smooth-skating blueliner should be even more effective on the larger international ice. Obviously, his return from injury bears watching, however.
Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers Burnside:
The second defensive anchor behind Suter on the left side, McDonagh will play hard minutes against other team's top offensive units.
LeBrun: Could be the player who emerges at the Olympics to steal the show. McDonagh can do it all. Will be at home on the bigger ice. Future Norris Trophy winner.