Not too long ago, most hockey pundits considered Ryan Miller to be the secret weapon in Team USA's arsenal as they looked to more high-flying Canadian and Russian teams. That was then, and this is now -- and Miller's experiencing his version of a slump. The bad news is that fellow Olympian Tim Thomas isn't doing much better. The semi-good news? Jonathan Quick's recent play is better than Thomas and Miller.
So who does Team USA go with? The favorite in Miller? The guy with the best stats in Quick? As for Canada, you'd think it'd be between Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur, but Marc-Andre Fleury's actually produced better numbers over the recent stretch.
Do you go with experience, a hot streak, the most talent -- or just a hunch? Let's look at how the past 10 games have treated Canadian, Russian, Finnish, and American goalies (the other teams have an obvious selection).USA
Ryan Miller 2.8 GAA, 0.908 SP, 0 SO
Tim Thomas 2.6 GAA, 0.901 SP, 0 SO
Jonathan Quick 2.5 GAA, 0.911 SP, 0 SO
As mentioned above, Jonathan Quick's numbers over the past 10 games are better than his teammates. However, his numbers aren't extraordinarily higher than Miller or Thomas. I look more at save percentage than goals-against, as GAA can be tilted based on team defense. Because of that, I'm guessing Miller's still penciled in as the starter.
Martin Brodeur 2.5 GAA, 0.898 SP, 1 SO
Marc-Andre Fleury 2.7 GAA, 0.915 SP, 0 SO
Roberto Luongo 2.5 GAA, 0.911 SP, 0 SO
While Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo have matching 2.5 GAA, Brodeur's save percentage is far lower at 0.898, and that's including one shutout in that stretch. Does Fleury have a chance at starting with a higher save percentage? He does have a Stanley Cup, something that Luongo doesn't. Traditional thinking tells me that Luongo gets the nod over Brodeur, at least to start; however, Fleury's Cup experience and higher save percentage could be an unexpected pick.
Remember how Miikka Kiprusoff said that he wouldn't go to the Olympics unless he was the starter? Well, he's heading to Vancouver but Antero Niittymaki has been significantly hotter recently. Niittymaki's also shown he can be highly effective in short-tournament situations. Still, I'm guessing that the Finnish team will bend to Kiprusoff's wishes and go with the Calgary netminder.
Ilya Bryzgalov 2.5 GAA, 0.919 SP, 0 SO
Evgeni Nabokov 2.1 GAA, 0.938 SP, 0 SO
Conventional thinking goes with Nabokov in net, as he's got more experience in playoff situations. His strong season doesn't deter that thinking, and while Bryzgalov's recent numbers are better than the Canadian and American goalies, they're still not better than Nabokov's.
These are all elite players, and in a short tournament, a hot hand could be worth riding. After looking at these numbers, how would you pick your starters?