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Stiff Olympic challenge awaits Team USA

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In February 2010, Team USA nearly strutted out of Vancouver with Olympic gold. Had Sidney Crosby not slipped a so-so shot past Ryan Miller in overtime of the final, the Americans could have countered with a winning strike past Roberto Luongo.

That the Americans put themselves oh so close to gold underscored their commitment to their singular identity of abrasiveness. The Yanks practically lifted their hind legs and marked their territory on Vancouver ice, much like Nathan Horton would do a year later when he poured water from the melted TD Garden sheet onto the Rogers Arena surface.

That identity will have to change next February if Team USA aims to be in a similar position in Sochi, Russia. It will not be an easy transition.

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