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Who Should Team Canada's Goalies Be for 2014 Olympics?

Dave LozoNHL National Lead WriterJanuary 4, 2014

Who Should Team Canada's Goalies Be for 2014 Olympics?

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    Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images

    It's a common refrain when there's a discussion about Olympic hockey teams: "Canada has so many good players that it could send a 'B' team to Sochi that could win a medal."

    That's not the case when it comes to goaltending for the 2014 Games, as Team Canada is facing some tough choices in net for its "A" team.

    There appears to be two locks for the roster, which will be announced Tuesday—Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens and Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks. Beyond that, it's anyone's guess who will serve as the team's third goaltender or who will start between Price and Luongo.

    Will Team Canada take a veteran to back up Price and Luongo, or will it tab a younger goaltender who could be groomed for future Olympics?

    What follows is a look at the viable Canadian candidates for Team Canada and their chances of making the roster.

     

    All statistics via NHL.com.

Locked In: Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

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    Francois Lacasse/Getty Images

    Age: 26

    2013-14 numbers: 19-11-3, 2.21 GAA/.928 save percentage

    Breakdown: Carey Price is arguably the best Canadian goaltender in the NHL. He has been a darling of scouts and front-office types since he was selected with the No. 5 pick in the 2005 draft and is putting forth his best season in 2013-14. He's entering his prime, but there's one drawback that could prevent him from starting for Team Canada—minimal big-game and international experience. He has never played in a world championship and when the Habs went to the conference finals in 2010, he deferred to backup Jaroslav Halak.

    Chances he makes the team: 100 percent

    Chances he starts in net: 75 percent

Locked In: Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    Age: 34

    2013-14 numbers: 16-9-6, 2.24 GAA/.920 save percentage

    Breakdown: Roberto Luongo took over at the 2010 Olympics when Martin Brodeur stumbled and backstopped Canada to a gold medal. Luongo's career has been quite the eventful one ever since, as he entered into a timeshare with Cory Schneider, requested a trade, then saw Schneider get dealt to New Jersey. Luongo has been great this year as the unquestioned No. 1 and has the big-game experience Team Canada craves. The problem is his performances in those big games—Olympics excluded—have had some catastrophic outcomes.

    Chances he makes the team: 100 percent

    Chances he starts in net: 25 percent

On the Bubble: Jonathan Bernier, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    2013-14 numbers: 13-11-4, 2.40 GAA/.931 save percentage

    Breakdown: If the brass at Team Canada decides their No. 3 goaltender will be at Sochi to gain experience for future events, Jonathan Bernier makes a lot of sense. In his first season as a regular starter, he's been fantastic and has wrested away most of the playing time from teammate James Reimer. The problem for Bernier is that he possesses all of 30 minutes of postseason playing time, and his international experience consists of three games at the 2011 worlds and two games at the 2008 world juniors.

    Chances he makes the team: 50 percent

    Chances he starts in net: 0 percent

On the Bubble: Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Age: 29

    2013-14 numbers: 17-6-4, 2.49 GAA/.907 save percentage

    Breakdown: Corey Crawford was among the strong candidates to start for Canada heading into the season. After all, he had just won a Stanley Cup in 2013 and had a career season for the Blackhawks. But the bloom has come off the rose. He has struggled majorly and battled injury, causing his stock to drop. But if Team Canada is going with the "big game" mentality in its No. 3, Crawford could be the guy. 

    Chances he makes the team: 12 percent

    Chances he starts in net: 0 percent

On the Bubble: Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Andy Marlin/Getty Images

    Age: 29

    2013-14 numbers: 23-10-1, 2.15 GAA/.921 save percentage

    Breakdown: It's a crazy world in which we live when a goaltender like Marc-Andre Fleury, who has won a Stanley Cup and is enjoying an excellent season—is at best a bubble candidate for Team Canada. But his well-chronicled implosions in the past two postseasons have done nearly irreparable damage to his reputation as a big-game goaltender. How would he perform under the spotlight in Sochi? There are many "what ifs" around Fleury, making his candidacy as a No. 3 goaltender very muddled. 

    Chances he makes the team: 5 percent

    Chances he starts in net: 0 percent

On the Bubble: Josh Harding, Minnesota Wild

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Age: 29

    2013-14 numbers: 18-7-3, 1.65 GAA/.933 save percentage

    Breakdown: If Canada is taking this season's best goaltenders, it would be hard to pass on Josh Harding. He's third in the NHL in save percentage and first in goals-against average, but the black mark on Harding is he's never come close to anything like this in his career. Should Price and Luongo suffer injuries, can he handle the starting spot for a game? Two games? The entire tournament? He has been a backup his entire career and isn't exactly a spring chicken, making it close to impossible for him to make the team.

    Chances he makes the team: 10 percent

    Chances he starts in net: 0 percent

On the Bubble: Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

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    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Age: 29

    2013-14 numbers: 13-10-2, 3.00 GAA/.915 save percentage

    Breakdown: Braden Holtby's goals-against average isn't pretty, but he's been the victim of a porous Capitals defense all season. His save percentage shows he's still playing as well as he has over the previous two seasons, when he took his team to the playoffs twice. He's not a candidate to start, obviously, but he's in that group that's young enough to warrant inclusion for grooming purposes. 

    Chances he makes the team: 14 percent

    Chances he starts in net: 0 percent

On the Bubble: James Reimer, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Graig Abel/Getty Images

    Age: 25

    2013-14 numbers: 8-5-1, 2.83 GAA/.924 save percentage

    Breakdown: The Maple Leafs have no shortage of good young goaltenders, giving them two possibilities to serve as the No. 3 in Sochi. But what James Reimer lacks that teammate Jonathan Bernier has is an abundance of playing time this season. There's nothing wrong with Reimer's numbers—his save percentage is seventh among Canadian netminders—but Bernier has been a little bit better across the board this season. Reimer's only playoff experience was last season, when the Leafs frittered away a 4-1 lead and lost in overtime in Game 7 against the Boston Bruins in the first round.

    Chances he makes the team: 1 percent

    Chances he starts in net: 0 percent

On the Bubble: Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Age: 31

    2013-14 numbers: 15-9-8, 2.86 GAA/.912 save percentage

    Breakdown: Mike Smith was thought to have an above-average shot at making Team Canada before the season, but he's had his share of struggles in 2013-14. A lot of that has to do with the Coyotes allowing 33.1 shots per game, fifth most in the league. Smith has very little big-game and international experience, but he's been great in those small samples. He had a 1.99/.944 split when he took the Coyotes to the conference finals in 2012 and had a 1.65/.944 split in three games for Team Canada at the 2013 worlds. He's also an excellent stick-handler, something that could be of great use without the silly trapezoid limiting him under IIHF rules.

    Chances he makes the team: 25 percent

    Chances he starts in net: 2 percent

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