Quick the Clear Number One for Team USA
On one hand, there was Buffalo Sabres' netminder Ryan Miller. In 2010, Miller led his country to a Silver Medal in Vancouver and was named the best goaltender of the tournament.
On the other hand, there was Los Angeles Kings' netminder Jonathan Quick. While Quick, 28, was his country's third goaltender in the 2010 games, he did go on to win a Stanley Cup in 2012 and in his last two postseasons, proved that he is one of the most consistent goaltenders when it comes to a tournament style of play.
Here we are and with two games and two wins in the books for Team USA, Quick has been the goaltender of record in both of them. While it was not surprising to see Quick start his team's first match against Slovakia on Thursday, it was kind of surprising that Team USA head coach Dan Bylsma decided to go with Quick in their team's second game against Team Russia.
Quick has certainly rewarded Bylsma's confidence in him by turning in two solid performances. On Thursday, Quick kept his game simple in making 22 saves on 23 shots in doing what he had to do to help his team win by a score of 7-1.
In today's 3-2 shootout win over Team Russia, Quick was the star that his country needed him to be. He stopped 29 of 31 shots and came up with the big save when the team needed him the most.
Quick was also quite good in the shootout. Yes, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk both were able to score multiple times but much like he did in regulation time, Quick was able to come up with the big save when his team needed it the most.
In this particular case, it was in the top of the eighth round of the shootout. Quick was able to make a great glove save on Kovalchuk and then TJ Oshie went on to score the winner on the very next shot.
Based on his play both today and on Thursday, it is clear that Quick is the number one goaltender for Team USA. The only way this notion would have been questioned is if Bylsma decided to go with Miller today against the Russians.
Since Bylsma did not do that, it is easy to say that for Team USA, the road for the Gold will start and end with Quick between the pipes. The team is on the right route to accomplish this after their first two games and the team could end up winning Group A tomorrow against Team Slovenia.
If Team USA is to win their group and head into the elimination round on a good note, Bylsma must not deviate from the goaltending plan and continue to go with Quick between the pipes. Yes, Miller is more than capable of winning for Team USA, but the thought is that if Miller really had a chance of being the guy for his country, he would have already started a game.
Team USA's net belongs to Quick and for Bylsma and the rest of the team, that can only be a good thing as Team USA looks to rewrite history and capture its first Gold Medal since 1980.