Given the United States' performance in Vancouver, there are a couple questions that require some attention and answers:
1.) Are the Americans the new favorites to win gold?
2.) Is Ryan Miller the best goaltender in the world?
After an impressive 2-0 shut out Wednesday against the Swiss, the second question is causing quite the conversation.
Now that the USA (4-0 for the first time) is in the "Final Four" of the Olympic tournament, the former Michigan State Spartan and Hobie Baker Award winner Ryan Miller will get to strut his stuff for the globe to see.
Miller, 29, has been anchoring the NHL's Buffalo Sabres for six years. The 2010 games in Vancouver are his first go in the Olympics, and he's shining brighter than the snow that covers Whistler.
Miller ranks in the top 10 in every pertinent NHL goaltender statistic: seventh in wins with 30, second in goals against with a paltry 2.16 average, second in save percentage (.930), and fifth in shutouts with five. More importantly, he's keeping the state-siders in medal contention.
Impressive numbers, but there's one accolade that Miller is capable of attaining that would cement his name in the "world's best net-minder" conversation: bringing home a gold medal for the first time since the famed "1980 Miracle On Ice."
Early on, the uber-talented, deep, and experienced Canadians were the front-runners to don the gold medal around their necks on the winners' podium in Vancouver. It would appear that the tide is changing, and the No. 2 team (USA) is forging ahead like a speeding locomotive—thanks to the on-loan Sabres gate-keep.
The USA has struggled a bit offensively at times—Miller's breathtaking display between the pipes has kept it competitive. He's given up just five goals in four games, three of which were to Canada.
Without Miller, the United States wouldn't have half a chance to beat a team that boasts such talent as Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, Philadelphia's Chris Pronger, and San Jose's Dany Heatley.
Crosby is tied for the most goals in the NHL with Washington's Alex Ovechkin, and "The Kid" would love to put a few pucks past Miller should he be given the chance.
The list of Canadian superstars goes on and on—our neighbors to the north are stacked at every position.
Are the Americans the new favorite?
Can they beat the juggernaut Canadian Dream Team?
The Americans have already knocked it down once (5-3), but it's likely going to take another round with Goliath to get the job done.
Perhaps Olympic hockey fanatics will have to wait until the gold medal game to have their suspicions satisfied. You can bet your bottom dollar that Miller will have something to say come go-time.
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