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Canada does not have a goaltending problem

Canada does not have a goaltending problem

By Asif Hossain

Heading into Tuesday night’s NHL action, the league leader in goals against average, save percentage and shutouts is…

Ben Scrivens

Ben Scrivens

Ben Scrivens has taken injured (American) goalie Jonathan Quick’s spot on the LA Kings and if he keeps his current form, it may never be returned. In 12 games Alberta-born Scrivens has a stunning 1.44 GAA, .947 save percentage and three shutouts.

Here is the bigger part of the story.

Canadians can be relieved that one perceived weakness in men’s ice hockey going into Sochi 2014 – goaltending – isn’t real.

Chatter during the summer when 47 players were invited to a Hockey Canada camp, was that a lack of clear number one choice would hurt Canada in the Olympic Winter Games.

However, so many Canadian goaltenders have started the 2013-14 NHL season with consistently strong performances that the country can relax. Not to mention, Martin Brodeur is still playing (quite well) and if needed, he said he wouldn’t turn down a flight to Russia.

Which three goaltenders will (general manager) Steve Yzerman choose? A few options:

Carey Price

Carey Price

Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens faces a lot of shots and so far has stopped 93.5% of them. Of Canada’s top goalie choices, only Mike Smith (654) and Braden Holtby (569) have made more saves than Price’s 564 through November 25. Price’s GAA and save percentage are considerably more impressive than the other two.

Roberto Luongo

Roberto Luongo

Roberto Luongo took over from Brodeur after a group stage loss to the United States in Vancouver 2010. There was no looking back for the Vancouver Canucks superstar, playing the Olympic gold medal winning game on his NHL home ice. Strictly by numbers he doesn’t stack up against Price, though experience counts and Luongo has the gold medal to prove his worth. He recently received Brodeur’s backing as the clear number one.

Josh Harding

Josh Harding

This Minnesota Wild goaltender has posted Scrivens-like numbers (yes, that’s apparently a thing now) but has struggled as of late and is currently day-to-day with a hamstring injury. These are the untimely things that can exclude one from the Olympic team.

Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer

Reimer and Bernier

The Brangelina of the NHL, Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer, have been admirable, the 6-0 loss to Columbus on November 25 notwithstanding.  They have near-identical top-10 save percentages though Reimer’s GAA took a hard hit giving up six goals to Columbus.

There are at least three or four other names that could be listed. Someone is literally shouting at me about Corey Crawford right now, but aims to be mobile friendly (you’re welcome, commuters) so I’ll keep this brief.

The Steven Stamkos injury taught Canadians that best laid plans change in an instant. Smart not to fall in love with the idea of one set of goaltenders over another just yet, and it’s probably better to jot down fantasy Olympic rosters with a pencil.

One thing Canadians can be sure of is that the men’s Olympic team doesn’t have a goaltending problem.

By Asif Hossain

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