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Team USA’s World Juniors confidence comes from their defense

Dec 18, 2012, 8:00 AM EDT

Seth Jones Getty Images

HAWTHORNE, NY — One of the strengths Team USA will have when they head into the World Junior Championships is on their blue line. With a future star in 2013 draft prospect Seth Jones as well as three first-round picks in Jacob Trouba, Connor Murphy, and Brady Skjei the American defense will be huge.

One thing is for sure, the guys on the ice believe in the crew they’ve got on the back line as well.

“I think we have a great blue line,” says 2012 Winnipeg Jets first-rounder Jacob Trouba. “We have some diversity with big guys and we have some smaller guys who are shifty. Whoever ends up coming to the tournament, we’ll be good on the blue line.”

Rangers 2012 first-rounder Brady Skjei agrees with him.

“I think we all have a feel for each other. With Jones and Trouba and all them the last couple years, we’re pretty confident we’re a solid D corps.”

The big guys we’ve mentioned already. The small, shifty ones are guys like 2012 third-round picks Matt Grzelcyk (Boston) and Shayne Gostisbehere (Philadelphia). They may not deliver the body, but their quickness and playmaking ability could be useful on the international-sized ice. That’s something coach, and one-time shifty defenseman himself, Phil Housley noticed right away.

“I look at our back end as a whole; I think there’s a lot of guys that can fit that mold,” Housley said. “Certainly Grzelcyk, Gostisbehere and [Mike] Reilly, they have that uncanny ability to jump up in the play.”

While playing on a bigger ice surface doesn’t bother any of the players, the star power they’ll face in Russia is another story. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will lead the way for Canada while the hosts will have guys like Mikhail Grigorenko and Nail Yakupov.

Could the Americans get psyched out by the star power they’ll see from their opponents?

“Not really. We’ve got plenty talent on our team too,” Trouba said. “One player is nothing huge. We’ve played against a lot of them in the past. They’re good but they’re still hockey players too.”

  1. broadstbully33 - Dec 18, 2012 at 8:59 AM

    As long as Canada stops suspending or disqualifying players from other countries it should be some pretty good hockey

    • doubles22 - Dec 18, 2012 at 10:12 AM

      Don’t wanna get suspended? Don’t run around like an id.

      Ain’t that hard to figure out…

    • tatdue - Dec 18, 2012 at 12:03 PM

      Dude the competition hasn’t even started and you already sound like a sore loser. Quit trying to blame Canada for something that has nothing to do with it. The IIHF, you know, the International Ice Hockey Federation is not f’n Canadian. Hence the word INTERNATIONAL….Noesen f’d up, just deal with it….

      • mrchainbluelightning - Dec 18, 2012 at 12:37 PM

        Lil boys, will always sound like whiny lil boys till they grow up and become men.

  2. antkowiak666 - Dec 18, 2012 at 9:08 AM

    i hope the US and Russia kicks the sh!t out of Canada!

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 18, 2012 at 11:01 AM

      The US is going to have a tough time doing that after they get relegated again.

    • mrchainbluelightning - Dec 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM

      LOL I bet you do
      I bet you do

      Won’t change the fact I’ll be rooting for the US when they play Russia.

      Of course have my allegiances straight, perhaps you’re of Russian decadence in which case you totally makes sense. Otherwise, woman scorned comes to mind.

  3. tfaltin - Dec 18, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Can’t wait to watch some quality competitive hockey, especially with Rangers prospects Skjei and Miller representing the Stars and Bars . Enjoy it, it’s the best we’ll have all year.

  4. broadstbully33 - Dec 18, 2012 at 11:07 AM

    So is hubredeau allowed to play? He has a suspension too

    • tatdue - Dec 18, 2012 at 12:20 PM

      Huberdeau suspension will be over by the time the tournament starts. There’s no bs going on here, it’s simply the rules so get over it already….

    • id4joey - Dec 18, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      Sea Dogs will have played four games by the time the WJC begin : Dec 11, 14, 16, 20. So, the consipiracy theory is purely fabricated, and is as American as apple pie.

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