Ryan McDonagh took part in the first, and surely not last, Olympic game of his hockey career, and played a very good game defensively against a solid Slovakian side (though you wouldn't know it by the 7-1 scoreline). The most interesting play came after sliding into the boards and, uhh, just watch it.
I have no idea how he intuitively knew to bounce off the boards like an olympic swimmer turning for the next lap. Just a unique defensive play from a unique defensive player. McDonagh made another defensive play on Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Jurco, almost piledriving him and then rushing the puck up ice. He didn't earn a point on the play but it earned Team USA a goal nonetheless.
During his post-game press conference, Dan Bylsma singled out McDonagh and praised his work in the defensive zone. I think this Olympic tournament could lead to McDonagh earning his place in the elite class of NHL defensemen. It's an international tournament and all of North America will be focusing on the handful of games for Team USA. It's a chance for McDonagh to stand out to literally millions of hockey fans all watching the same 60-minute game, and so far he's done just that.
Ryan Callahan also had a solid game for the USA. He earned no points but was tenacious on the forecheck and responsible defensively. That's all the U.S. really needs out of him, with bigger guns like Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel the primary scorers.
The U.S. has off tomorrow but plays an important match against host country Russia Saturday morning. Bylsma has spilled no secrets but it would hardly be surprising to see McDonagh matched up against Ovechkin and Malkin.
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