Max Pacioretty will be back in the lineup this afternoon when the United States play the Czech Republic in Quarterfinal action at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Pacioretty suited up for the Americans first two games, but was a scratch when they dominated Slovenia to close out the Preliminary Round.
Pacioretty played very well on a line with Paul Stastny of the Colorado Avalanche and shootout hero T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues. The line combined for five points with Max collecting an assist in the opening game against Slovakia. It was a surprisingly dominant performance that saw the Americans begin their Olympics with a 7-1 victory, chasing Jaroslav Halak from the Slovak net in the process.
The line of Pacioretty with Stasny and Oshie played well again in game two, though they were shutout. Until the shootout that is. Oshie would shoot six times in the eight round shootout, scoring on four of his attempts and leading the USA to a 3-2 win.
Pacioretty was then made a healthy scratch against Slovenia as the Americans pushed their record to 3-0 and finished as the second seed in the standings.
It was a bit of a surprise to see Pacioretty sit, while Blake Wheeler of the Winnipeg Jets remained in the lineup. Wheeler had played less than five minutes combined in the opening two games, but would dress again versus Slovenia.
Turns out that Pacioretty may have just needed the day of rest more than a few minutes of ice time against one of the weaker teams in the tournament. Pacioretty crashed into a goal post and missed most of the Montreal Canadiens final game before the Olympic break, and is likely suffering from a minor injury that he is playing through at the games.
Pacioretty will be back today in the Americans first win or go home game, and will be back with his usual linemates. The American’s have not shuffled their lines very much since the tournament began, and will use these combinations again today.
Max Pacioretty – Paul Stastny – T.J. Oshie
The United States opponent, the Czech Republic will be led by Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec. Plekanec scored a goal and added an assist in yesterday’s Qualification game, a 5-3 win over rival Slovakia.
Plekanec is the unquestioned leader of the Czech squad, leading the team in points, first in ice time among forwards and wearing the C on his chest. He will once again be on a top line with Jaromir Jagr and Roman Cervenka.
Cervenka – Plekanec – Jagr
The winner of this Quarterfinal will play the winner of Canada-Latvia in the Semifinals of the Olympic Games.