Wilson preaching against overconfidence vs. Swiss
"I think I was a little more delicate than Brian," Wilson said just minutes after learning his team would play Switzerland in Wednesday's quarterfinals. The Swiss beat Belarus 3-2 in a shootout in Tuesday's qualification round.
Delicate or harsh, it appears the messages are getting through to the Americans.
Team USA goalie Ryan Miller said Tuesday that Burke's diatribe about how poorly the team played in winning the group stage and Wilson's follow-up has his teammates "justifiably paranoid" of falling into a trap against the Swiss by looking ahead to Friday's semifinals.
"You don't want to fall victim to looking at how your bracket might play out," defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "Every team that gets this far is a pretty competitive team.
"It's human nature, you are going to look and see how (the bracket) aligns, but you don't want to say the wrong things or look too far ahead. Obviously, we can't let up at all."
Olympic history is littered with hot-out-of-the-gate teams that found the elimination round to be far less to their liking. Anybody remember Sweden in 2002? They were dominant in pool play only to fall to Belarus and red-hot goalie Andrei Mezin in a stunning quarterfinal upset.
Wilson is certainly cognizant of it as his team enters the knockout portion of this already-unforgettable tournament as the top seed..
"We know 1988 is the last time a No. 1 seed even won a medal, I believe," Wilson said.
How long ago was that?
"The same year that (Team USA forward) Patrick Kane and (Team USA defenseman) Erik Johnson were born," Wilson added. "I was probably just starting my coaching career. That's how funky this whole thing is."
The Americans don't want to see funky on Wednesday. They want to see a representative effort from their team that delivers them into the semifinal round.
That means this Team USA will have to be better in the neutral zone then it was against the Swiss the first time around. The Americans will also have to stay patient and disciplined. Some goals from their top guns certainly wouldn't hurt, either.
But, most important, they have to solve Swiss goalie Jonas Hiller, who has proven in this tournament and with Anaheim in the NHL that he is a game-stealing goalie.
"Goalies can steal games, and he is one of those guys that is capable of doing it," Team USA forward Zach Parise said. "Everybody saw how great he was against Canada and he was good against us, too. From what I have heard, when he is on, it's tough to beat him. He can steal games and he's definitely dangerous."
But Wilson doesn't want to hear about hot goalies or neutral-zone traps. He believes in his team. He believes that if they play the hard-charging game that was on display in Sunday's tournament-changing win against Canada, they will continue on their path toward the stated goal of winning Olympic gold for the first time since 1980.
He doesn't want to see the feel-good vibe around the Americans dissipate. Hence, Wilson's constant reminders to his team to be vigilant against a let-down against the Swiss.
"We didn't come here to get a participation medal," Wilson said. "We talked all along about our goal is to win a gold medal."
It appears Wilson already has a plan for a gold medal if he is lucky enough to get one.
"I already have a ball mark, it's the participation medal," said Wilson. "It's cute but I'd rather throw out a big gold medal like this (making a circle with his hands) and have people putt around it this summer."
Author: Shawn P. Roarke | NHL.com Managing Editor