(HockeySTL) -- One goal away from the gold medal, that’s what David Backes remembers from the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Despite taking home silver medal, Backes knows the USA team will need to adapt to succeed in Russia.
“We’re going to be in a different culture. We’re going to be on a different size sheet of ice,” Backes said, “We’ve got to take the adversity. Take it as a great challenge and push through it rather than let it get to us.”
USA players will have to deal with around a 10 hour time difference between the US and Russia. Players will also deal with a larger area of ice.
David Poile, General Manager for USA men’s hockey, said the USA team has been successful in North America, but hasn’t been able to transfer that success to Europe.
“We need to have our North American game translate better into a European game,” Poile said.
Backes also said USA players don’t have much time to come together before the Olympics to practice unlike other international teams and it is up to the individual players to be ready for the intensity of Olympic play.
“We get together for one practice the day before our first game in the Olympics,” Backes explained, “Then it’s, ‘Drop the puck. Let’s go.’ We have to combine forces and do what we can.”
Backes won’t be the only Blues player headed to Sochi as teammates TJ Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk will also play for the USA.
“I was probably happier than (Oshie) was,” said Backes, “He’s done a lot of work and really deserves that honor. He’ll be a great teammate in Sochi.”
Team USA also brings 13 players from the 2010 team back for the Olympics in Sochi and Poile hopes that familiarity will benefit the team as they contend for a medal.
“Now it’s four years later with at least half of the team coming back, being the same, “ said Poile, “We want to see if we can be one goal better and one goal better would take us to the gold medal.”
USA men’s hockey opens up Olympic competition on February 12 against Slovakia.