Team USA and Team Canada have similar goaltending situations
At the last two Winter Olympic Games in Turin and Vancouver, respectively, goaltending had a big impact when it came to teams going to the medal round and even winning the Gold Medal. In 2006, it was New York Rangers' goaltender Henrik Lundqvist of Team Sweden that did his country proud and helped his country win their first Gold Medal since 1994.
Fast forward to 2010 and Buffalo Sabres' goaltender Ryan Miller of Team USA almost had the same result that Lundqvist did. Miller was the best goaltender in the tournament and came within an overtime goal of leading Team USA to their first Gold Medal since 1980.
Goaltending is going to play a huge role in these Olympic Games in Sochi. In order for Team Canada and Team USA to win a medal, the coaching staff is going to have to make a very difficult decision when it comes to who will be the man between the pipes to lead them to the promised land of international hockey.
For Team Canada, Babcock is going to have to choose between the guy who helped win them the Gold in 2010, Vancouver Canucks' masked man Roberto Luongo, and the guy who is the better goaltender right now, Montreal Canadiens' goaltender Carey Price. Babcock is going to have to be careful considering so much is at stake here.
On the one hand, Luongo, who will start Team Canada's next game against Austria, more than got the job done when Team Canada won Gold four years ago. He took over for a struggling Martin Brodeur and when Sidney Crosby scored the "Golden goal", it was Luongo who was between the pipes.
With that said, however, it can be said that Price is ready to lead Canada to the Gold now. Not only did he help his country defeat Norway today 3-1 by stopping of 19-20 shots, but he came into these games as one of the hottest netminders in the league.
Should Luongo win tomorrow afternoon, it will be interesting to see which direction Babcock will go in when it comes to his top two goaltenders.
Four years ago in Vancouver, Miller was brilliant between the pipes for his country as he was the top goaltender in the tournament, was named to the Olympic All-Star Team, and came away with the Silver Medal.
Fast forward to now and Miller is still one of the best goaltenders in the game. The question, however, is whether or not he is better than Jonathan Quick.
Quick was between the pipes today when his country beat Slovakia 7-1. Quick stopped 22 of 23 shots and while that is not that many, he still managed to make some high quality saves when Slovakia did get some scoring opportunities.
Bylsma was hesitant to anoint Quick or Miller the starting goaltender for this tournament so it will be interesting to see who he decides to go with when things start to really ramp up in the tournament.
No Easy Choice
Basically put, both Babcock and Bylsma are in a tough position when it comes to selecting their main guy in net.
Not only will whoever they select help determine how far they go in these Olympics, but they will also determine whether or not they are standing at the podium when all is said and done.
Certainly not an enviable position if you ask me.