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U.S. coach complimentary of young blue line in Olympic opener

Feb 14, 2014, 12:27 AM EDT

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 6 - Slovakia v United States Getty Images

The U.S. opened their schedule in the men’s ice hockey competition in Sochi with an impressive victory over Slovakia. While the positives to take out of that game were numerous, head coach Dan Bylsma highlighted the play of his team’s defenseman.

On the score sheet, the U.S. blue line accounted for only three points in what was a 7-1 thumping of Slovakia. But they also helped keep a talented Slovak team in check.

“Some of these guys have played in big games and been in big spotlights, but maybe none bigger than the one we were in [Thursday],” Bylsma said, as per NHL.com.

“I thought to get our feet underneath us, especially those young guys on defense, I thought they played large. We have Paul Martin and [Ryan] Suter back there, but Cam Fowler and John Carlson in particular, and Ryan McDonagh, played well on the back side.”

Carlson, a stand out on the blue line with the Washington Capitals in the National Hockey League, had a two-point night, including the first goal of the game.

“Looking at the back end of our team with a handful of guys playing their first games, it dawned on me that we are especially young on the back side,” Bylsma said. “I thought it was fitting that we scored the first goal from John Carlson there.”

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