Today we found out as Canadian coach Mike Babcock announced that Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens will get the call in Canada’s opener versus Norway. He also added that while Price will get the nod in game one, Roberto Luongo will be between the pipes for game number two against Austria. The issue Team Canada faces is that opening the tournament against lesser opponents may give the coaching staff little to work with when deciding who will be their starting goalie against Finland and beyond. It is completely conceivable that both goalies could shutout the two weaker teams, at which point the team is back to square one.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to the Canadian goalie situation. Some believe that it should be Roberto Luongo’s job as he has already accomplished the task of backstopping Canada to an Olympic gold medal. The counter to that is that many say Luongo did nothing spectacular four years ago and that Canada won in spite of him, not because he won it for them. Those who share that school of thought will point to Carey Price’s stellar season and raw ability and plead with Babcock to run with the young netminder.
This won’t be the first time Canada has had this sort of goaltending issue at the Olympic games. In 2002 Curtis Joseph started the tournament and Martin Brodeur ended it. In 2010, Brodeur was the starter going in then gave way to Luongo.
While many see it as a controversy, the players themselves seem to be taking it in stride:
“We’re all here to play for Team Canada, man” – Roberto Luongo on Carey Price getting Canada’s first start. http://t.co/bJ5R16vOGL
— theScore (@theScore) February 12, 2014
In every breakdown of this Olympic tournament, the weakness mentioned for Team Canada always boils down to a possible weakness in net. The point is that whoever it is, that goalie is going to have to be a key piece if Canada has any hopes of repeating as gold medal winners. Now Babcock may just be playing coy when he says he doesn’t name the team’s true #1 goaltender. He could already know exactly who he is going ot run with come Sunday. Or maybe this is a true competition and whichever guy looks better to the coaches in their one game audition will be the guy to carry the load. Regardless of weather it’s Price or Luongo, there is a very good chance Canada’s goaltender will end the tournament as either a hero or a goat, no middle ground.
Poor Mike Smith…