BOSTON (CBS) – Kathryn Tappen of the NHL Network is in Russia covering hockey at the Winter Olympics, and while she readily admits she’s a homer, the former NESN star is predicting big things for Team USA Men’s Hockey.

“Big things” as in a gold medal.

Canada has by far the most talented team and Russia is thought to have the advantage at home, but Tappen likes the USA’s chances.

Kathryn Tappen appeared on Toucher & Rich Tuesday morning (afternoon in Sochi) after observing Team USA practice and what stood out to her is the thing that’ll give them an advantage over the competition.

“They looked good. The US’s strength is their speed. They’re not as big as Finland – we saw Finland get on the ice today and they’re huge. Then Canada gets on the ice and you’ve got Jamie Benn, [Ryan] Getzlaf, [Corey] Perry and these monsters, and when you look at Team USA they’re a relatively smaller sized team but their speed is there.

“They’re quick. You see the way Patrick Kane handles the puck in practice and you’re fixated on his hands. I like the fact that the USA is a cohesive unit as well. They seem to be having a lot of fun out there and have great chemistry. The lines look good; they have a strong team.”

The one big question mark for the home team is their goaltending, which is still shrouded in mystery according to Kathryn Tappen.

“We still don’t know who’s going to be in net. I tried to ask [head coach] Dan Bylsma on the plane and he wouldn’t give me anything. Then his son asked me for a picture and I said I’ll only give it to you if can tell me who the starting goalie is – he didn’t go for that either. But I would be surprised if it wasn’t Jonathan Quick.”

Four of the participating teams will begin play tomorrow with the United States not being one of them. Due to their travel schedule and lack of sleep, Kathryn Tappen thinks that the extra rest will be another advantage for them.

Team USA will take on Slovakia Thursday morning at 7:30am in their first game of Group A play.

Listen below for the full discussion:


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