Breaking down the 2014 U.S. team

— -- Here's a look at the 25-man roster named by USA Hockey on Jan. 1.


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.

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.

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.


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.

LeBrun: The smooth-skating blueliner should be even more effective on the larger international ice. Obviously, his return from injury bears watching, however.

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.

LeBrun: Faulk's inclusion might surprise some people, but he's a terrific skater and puck-mover, and on the big ice, he's going to be at home. His youth obviously begs the question of whether he can handle this assignment -- but I think he will.

LeBrun: Perhaps another surprise for those who don't stay up and watch West Coast hockey, but Fowler has been really strong this season at both ends. He made this team with his play this season.

LeBrun: His stock rose from the summer when Team USA viewed him as a defensive risk. But Shattenkirk's play this season has helped the American brass ease those concerns.

LeBrun: Is the big ice too much for him? Team USA wanted his physical edge; you can't have all puck-movers on the team. Orpik is a veteran player who has played in big Stanley Cup playoff games.

LeBrun: Another bright, young puck-mover who impressed Team USA scouts, especially with his penalty-killing prowess this season. Great skating ability will also translate on big ice.


LeBrun: Having a Hart Trophy-worthy season and bringing his dazzling, all-world offensive skills to a larger international ice surface? Oh my, hang on to your hats.

LeBrun: There's concern, obviously, with the star winger being on injured reserve with an injured foot. Such an important cog at both ends of the ice for Team USA, both on PP and PK. He needs to be healthy and ready to go. He was dynamic in Vancouver in 2010, and at a young age.

LeBrun: He's playing his best hockey in two years after recovering fully from wrist, hip and shoulder injuries over the stretch. He's playing the kind of two-way hockey that made him such a force in 2010 and 2011 for the Canucks, and he could see the most ice time of any U.S. forward at the Olympics.

LeBrun: The streaky Leafs winger should only benefit from the extra room on the ice in Sochi. Team USA hopes to have Kessel when he's hot and not when he's on one of his cold streaks.

LeBrun: A real important leader on Team USA, Backes will be charged with trying to shut down top offensive players from other countries. He's a beast on the foreheck and smart player in his own zone.

LeBrun: Just being healthy would be a great gift to the Rangers captain, who already has been injured twice this season. He will be relied on as a key penalty-killer and important player in protecting leads late in games. One of the game's hardest-working players.

LeBrun: Pavelski's a solid two-way center with a knack of elevating his play the bigger the game. Pavelski was terrific in Vancouver. He could also play the point on the Team USA power play in Sochi.

LeBrun: The hard-playing Kings captain isn't producing offensively like he used to, but on this team, he'll be counted on more for his physical play in pounding opposing defense.

LeBrun: He played his way onto the team with a strong opening three months while demonstrating chemistry with Leafs teammate Kessel. JVR has become a real effective player in front of the net.

LeBrun: Looks like the fifth center on Team USA, and he probably surprised people by making the team after a disappointing opening three months to the NHL season.

LeBrun: Terrific start to the NHL season, as well as a strong world championships last spring, helped vault Stasty's way on to the team. Stastny's a smart, two-way player who will be comfortable on big ice.

LeBrun: He was on the outside looking in a month into this season, but once Pacioretty got healthy and red hot offensively, he vaulted ahead of several players to make the team. Team USA is looking for some big goals from him in Sochi.

LeBrun: Perhaps a surprise to some, but Team USA liked his size and skating ability for the international game. He has played well on a struggling Jets team this season.

LeBrun: Real effective checking player with good wheels who also has a knack for shootouts.

Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun cover the NHL for