Over the next several weeks, I will be providing our readers with a sneak peak of who will be taking the ice for Team Canada this February in Vancouver. Yes, the team won’t be announced until probably December, but speculation has already begun as to who will make this team.
This week, I will go over the three goalies that will make the squad.
Goalie Candidates: Martin Brodeur, M-A Fleury, Roberto Luongo, Steve Mason, Cam Ward
Starting Goalie 1A: Martin Brodeur
Simply put, this job is Brodeur’s to lose, even though Luongo has been better of late (not really a fair comparison since Brodeur was injured almost all of last year). Brodeur was the backbone of the 2002 Gold Medal winning team, plus the 2004 World Cup starter, and has done nothing to relinquish the starting job. Let’s hope we don’t see another scenario like 2002 where Cujo was swapped for Brodeur after a loss during the first game to Sweden. Looking back in time, how on Earth was Cujo the starter over Brodeur anyways? Oh that’s right, then Leafs coach Pat Quinn was behind the bench for Canada at the time.
Starting Goalie 1B: Roberto Luongo
Should Broduer falter during Canada’s first game, look for Luongo to get the nod for the next one. Although the pressure will be insurmountable playing in the Canucks’ barn, Team Canada has the best tandem in all of the Olympics. Unless of course, Tommy Salo and Tommy Soderstrom play for Sweden this year.
Third Stinger: Cam Ward
Halfway through this past season, Steve Mason was viewed in many circles as the third goalie on the team. Since then, Ward played out of his mind for the Canes playing almost every remaining regular season game, and lead his team to the Conference Finals in the Playoffs. With a Cup and a Conn Smythe already under is belt, Ward has proven that he could step in and play well should disaster strike.
Steve Mason – not selected
If Mason has a crazy first half of the upcoming season, Stevie Y and friends could very well pick him as the third goalie. After all, recall this was pretty much the same situation with Iginla in 2002 – he was a late injury replacement invite to training camp, had a sick start to the 2001-2002 season, and subsequently was chosen to the team. If Mason is clearly playing far superior to Ward, then fine. But the one thing that I don’t buy is to just put Mason on the team to “gain experience on an international stage.”
M-A Fleury – not selected
Fleury isn’t on this team for the same rationale as leaving Mason off – Ward is the better goalie. Like I said above, if the Pens are undefeated at the time the team is announced, look for Fleury to get the last spot, but overall Ward is fudamentally better.
Next week I will break down the defenceman. Stay tuned!