Derek Stepan will be the odd man out for the United States when they take on Slovakia later on today. The current New York Ranger won’t dress for the US and will instead watch the contest from the stands. While Canada has announced that they will roll out their scratches in their next game, it’s unclear what American head coach Dan Bylsma intends to do with his group of extras.
— Antti Mäkinen (@sirmakinen) February 13, 2014
Given that the United States is gunning for a blue-collar identity, it’s not all that surprising to see the talented but streaky Stepan sit this one out. Slovakia hasn’t been getting a lot of attention as a potential medal contender, but they are icing a strong squad with several notable NHL players.
Chief among them is Zdeno Chara—The towering Boston Bruins defender who will likely play upwards of 25 minutes a night for the Slovaks.
Stepan’s next chance to get into a game for the Stars and Stripes will be on Friday, when the US is scheduled to take on Russia in what is sure to be an outstanding contest between two of the better teams in the tournament. If the United States struggles to create offensive pressure with their bottom-six today, look for the young star to get into action sooner rather than later.