Hiller, Ryan, Whitney on their big meeting.

Before they left for Vancouver, Jonas Hiller, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Whitney took a pop quiz. One question. If they didn’t study, they should have.

What’s the first men’s hockey game in the Olympics?

Hiller and Ryan knew; Whitney, who was only added the Team USA roster last week, did not.

Hiller, in fact, has had it circled for a while. “Ever since they announced the schedule,” he schedule.

Here’s what else the trio had to say about today’s game between USA and Switzerland at noon:

Jonas Hiller:

I’m excited to face the best guys on the world. It’s great to have some of those guys on this team. on the ice it will be a different situation for once. On the Swiss team, you play against those kind of teams – U.S., Canada – it’s kind of like, skills-wise they should be ahead of you. You’re always kind of the underdog. That’s OK. We don’t mind that role. We should be able to hurt those guys a little bit, the big teams.

(Do you have an advantage knowing their tendencies?) I don’t think so. In the game you’re just focused on the shot. You almost don’t have time to think. You know some tendencies. I can tell the defensemen to be careful or whatever, but I don’t think it’s a huge advantage. They also know where to shoot. I think in a game, it just goes so quick, you don’t have time to think about who’s shooting, you just face the shot.

Ryan Whitney:

It’s something I’ve never experienced, playing against a teammate in a legit event – it’s not an all-star game or a practice, anything like that. You’re on different teams, both trying to win. It’s fun and a little weird at the same time.

(If you know any of Hiller’s tendencies, will you share them with teammates?) I think if you know a guy, something he doesn’t do that well, you can mention it, talk about a way that might exploit a goalie, or something like that. Guys step up in big games. It comes down to your team and how you’re going to play, not so much individual stuff.
Maybe if you have a breakaway on a goalie you play with, you might think of something you did in practice that works, but if you have a one-timer, you’re just trying to score. You’re not really considering strengths of a certain goalie.

Bobby Ryan:

[Hiller] knows my tendencies a little too much. If I get a shot from the slot he knows where it’s going most of the time. But it’ll be nice. I’m good friends with Luca Sbisa as well. We talk to him. I’m hoping to be on the ice against him a few times and take some runs at him because we’ve been talking back and forth in Switzerland and Portland.

(Sbisa knows you, too though…) I think it’s more of an advantage to the forward in that situation. I know what he’s about and I know he’s a very smooth skater. I’ll just try and grind it up with him.

(and Jonas?) I know where I would consider him weaker. If him knowing that I know that, he’ll overplay that side a little bit and make me shoot somewhere I’m uncomfortable shooting. Jonas will trick you. He plays mind games back there with you a little bit. I’ve got my work cut out for me if I do get any shots on him.

(If you know any of Hiller’s tendencies, will you share them with teammates?) I’ll let my teammates know, absolutely. They’re going to be well aware of where I think they should shoot. Then again, I’ve already told the media that once. Jonas probably sits on that back there knowing everybody’s going to the same spot, and he’ll have a fun game.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.

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