Langenbrunner, U.S. ready for more

Wednesday, 02.24.2010 / 2:19 PM ET / Features
By Eric Marin
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Langenbrunner, U.S. ready for more
After finishing the preliminary round with a perfect 3-0 mark, the United States sat three wins away from its first Olympic gold medal in men's hockey since the 1980 Miracle on Ice.

Newjerseydevils.com spoke to Team USA captain Jamie Langenbrunner on the eve of the United States' quarterfinal matchup with Switzerland.

The Devils' captain notched the game-winning goal in Sunday's thrilling victory over Canada and had his sights set on a second victory against the Swiss. Team USA upended Switzerland, 3-1, in their tournament opener.

How intense was the US-Canada game?
Langenbrunner: It was up there as one of the more intense games I’ve been involved in. It was a lot of fun, a great atmosphere and exciting to be a part of.

How would you rank that game among your career highlights?
Langenbrunner: I think time will tell. If we’re able to use that confidence we gained from beating them and move on to bigger and better things, I’ll rank it pretty high up there. If we don’t take advantage of what we gained by getting that win, then it’ll be pretty low as far as important wins go.

Thirty years after the Miracle on Ice, how did it feel to notch the game-winner in a big game for Team USA?
Langenbrunner: We’re excited about that win and about how we’ve played so far, but we think we have bigger games ahead of us and we’re focused on that.

As Devils captain, what's it been like to serve as Captain America?
Langenbrunner: It’s been fine. We’ve got a real good group of guys here. Everybody’s focused on heading in the right direction. We’ve got a lot of good leaders and it’s fun to be a part of right now.

After starting the tournament on different lines, you and Zach Parise played well together against Canada...
Langenbrunner: I think there was that comfort level right away. Any time you play with new guys, you’re trying to figure out how they want to play, where they’re going to be in certain situations. With Zach and I, you don’t have to think anymore. You know where he’s going to be and it definitely helps. It made both of us more comfortable (against Canada) and the end of the (Norway game) when we got put together, and I think we’ve played a little better because of it.

This is your second trip to the Winter Games. How do you think Zach has handled his first Olympic experience?
Langenbrunner: He’s getting better and better every day. He would be first to admit he was pretty nervous in that first game, as were a lot of us. I think we’ve started to settle in and feel more comfortable within the team and what we’re trying to do. In that Canada game, I think he was one of the top players on the ice, and that’s saying a lot in such a big game to rise up to that occasion.

How big has Ryan Miller been for the United States?
Langenbrunner: He’s been fantastic. He’s lived up to the hype of having such a great year and playing well. He’s continued that, and it’s been a pleasure playing in front of him. He’s made a lot of us look better in situations where we’ve had some breakdowns. Hopefully we’ll clean it up and make it a little bit easier on him, and he’ll be able to continue to bail us out when we don’t.

What's the atmosphere like in Vancouver?
Langenbrunner: It’s been good. The city is crazy. There’s an unbelievable amount of people and the streets at night are just packed with people. They have this P&G Family Home where we spend a lot of time with our families and just hang out with food and stuff to do for the kids. It’s been a lot of fun.

So you've had a chance for some time away from the rink?
Langenbrunner: Our schedule ended up being pretty light. We’ve had a couple of two-day breaks in between games, otherwise we’ve played every other day, which has been nice. It hasn’t been too demanding physically, but mentally it’s a tough grind because every game is so intense and the buildup for every team has been tough. But I think we’ve done a good job of staying focused.

In an interview with NHL.com, Zach said fatigue was a factor to start the tournament.
Langenbrunner: I’ll agree with Zach – it was tough. We came from Carolina that night, got in at 12, 1 o’clock and we were at the airport at 6 o’clock in the morning for our flight (to Vancouver). It was a tough turnaround. We slept on the plane, then got right into it, practicing and playing. It was tough. It took a few days to get settled in, and didn’t feel real good in the first game, but you get better as you go along and that’s fine. Our teammates are doing the same thing and everybody was kind of in the same boat.

How about Wednesday's meeting with Switzerland?
Langenbrunner: It’s obviously a whole new ballgame. We were fortunate to win that first game against them, but we realize how dangerous they are and we have to make sure we’re at the top of our game. We played well in the preliminaries and gave ourselves the best possible road and now it’s our job to take advantage of that. We know we have a tough game and we have to be ready for that.

What does Team USA have to do better going forward?
Langenbrunner: We just have to keep getting better, period. We’re giving up a little too much as far as opportunities and odd-man rushes (against), which is something we’ll need to cut down on. We need to be a little bit more diligent in the way we’re attacking the other team and putting pucks in the right spot. Putting pucks to the net, getting more shots to the net. We’re working on those things and you just want to get everyone playing on the same page. We’ve gone through games where we’ve had good portions of that, and now we need to get everybody going.