Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Ryan Malone makes U.S. Olympic team
Lightning left wing Ryan Malone acknowledged that given his age (30), this year would be his “big shot” to make the United State’s Olympic team.
Turns out, Malone will get that dream opportunity as he was selected Friday to play in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Malone said it still hadn’t sunk in, but you couldn’t wipe the smile off the Pittsburgh native’s face.
“I think it’ll be a once-and-a-lifetime experience,” Malone said. “The level of hockey, obviously, I’m proud to be a part of, and I think everyone’s game will kind of be raised from playing over there.”
Malone certainly earned his first Olympic berth, having raised the level of his game this season, ranking second on the team in goals (19), and leading the NHL in game-winner (seven). Coach Rick Tocchet said he’s seen a different Malone, one who is more consistent on a nightly basis, and growing into more of a leadership role.
And Tocchet believes Malone’s size (6-foot-4, 224 pounds) and gritty style of play in front - and around - the net, will be a great fit on the smaller playing surface on North American ice.
“He’s gonna be huge for just the stuff that they’re looking for in those games,” Tocchet said. “When you’re talking about Olympic style games, it’s usually every game is a playoff game, and a lot of pucks get to the net, a lot of pucks get behind the net, a lot of pucks get on the wall, and that’s kind of Ryan’s forte. And you need players like that.”