Last week, the United States sent invitations to six goaltenders to the Olympic camp for a chance to make the final roster. Three spots will be open for goaltenders, one starter, one backup, and a third string in case of injury to one of the other two goalies. The United States invited Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres, Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings, Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators, John Gibson of the Norfolk Admirals, Jonathan Quick of the L.A. Kings, and Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils.
So who will make the roster for the U.S.?
Ryan Miller, the goalie that held a 5-1 record, .946% save percentage, and a goal against average of 1.35 in the 2010 Olympics? Miller led the 2010 team to the gold medal game, but they came up short to Canada in overtime when Sidney Crosby netted the game winner. Miller’s numbers have slumped the last few seasons in the NHL, but he is still capable of playing at a high level with a group of good players around him. Miller is a lock for me, I think it would take a pretty poor camp for Miller to not get a spot.
What about Jimmy Howard, the man who put the Red Wings on his back and carried them into the playoffs, and then almost passed the, to be Stanley Cup Champions, Chicago Blackhawks? Howard has experience in high pressure situations, and can carry a team. Howard played well this season putting up a goals against average of 2.13, a save percentage of .923%. Howard is a work horse, he played in 42 games this season and finished with a record of 21-13-7. I think Howard has a chance to make the team, and I think he has a chance to start, but it will have to be an impressive camp to knock off some of the competition.
Maybe Craig Anderson, the seasoned veteran that has past experience in the Olympics and held an impressive 1.69 goals against average, and a save percentage of .941% in 24 games this last season? Anderson battled injuries this season, but when he was healthy, he was playing well. He was less than stellar in the playoffs, but the Senators weren’t able to put up much of a fight against the Penguins. If Anderson is on top of his game when he arrives to camp, there’s no reason to think that he couldn’t make the roster. There is a lot of good competition in net, and there can only be one starter, and if he can play as well as he did in the regular season then he may get the job.
Hasn’t Jonathan Quick been the most clutch goalie the NHL has seen over the last few years? Quick carried the Kings to a Stanley Cup in 2012 and took them to the Western Conference Finals this season, where they lost to the Blackhawks. Quick holds a .940% save percentage over the last two years in the playoffs has been stellar for the Kings in net. I think Quick has a good chance at making the team, and is the only one I could see maybe getting the nod over Ryan Miller next year in Sochi.
But what about Cory Schneider? He was expected to be the man in Vancouver, but was surprisingly traded on the day of the draft for the number 9 pick, but has proven he can play consistently at a high level. Schneider has a save percentage of .932% over the last two seasons in Vancouver. While splitting time with Roberto Luongo, he played in 63 games and had a record of 37-17-5. Schneider has limited experience in the playoffs, but if he has a good camp, he could find himself on the roster. Schneider has the ability to play big, and could possibly find himself in net if he brings his A game.
But what if John Gibson can play on an Olympic stage like he did in the World Juniors? Gibson won the MVP, best goaltender, and was an all-star in the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. Gibson posted a goals against average of 1.36, and a save percentage of .955 in the tournament. Gibson plays for the Norfolk Admirals in the AHL. He spent last season in the juniors playing for the Kitchener Rangers. If Gibson can play well at camp and prove that he can play at this high of a level, then he may be able to get a spot. Thinking he may get the starting job may seem a little crazy, but who knows, if he can play well and impress the coaches, he might be the best option.