Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 08/26/13 at 12:20 PM ET
from Craig Custance of ESPN (paid subscription),
Here's an early handicap of how the American goalies line up heading into the season:
1. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
Back in 2010, when Quick was in Vancouver as the third Team USA goalie (essentially to gain international experience at the highest level), I asked him what it was like to have the label of USA Hockey's goalie of the future. Even being at the Olympics in the flesh didn't make it any easier to the expectations that he'd be starting in goal for the Americans down the road.
"That's too hard to even think about," he said. He's accomplished so much since then that's it's almost hard to envision anybody else in Sochi as the American No. 1 goalie. He'll return to the Olympics, not as a kid gaining experience, but as an experienced goalie with a Stanley Cup ring, a Conn Smythe trophy and a career playoff save percentage of .929, including .946 and .934 the last two seasons. He starts the season as the favorite.
2. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
We look back now at the 2013 playoffs and remember Corey Crawford's resiliency and ability to bounce back from bad moments to help propel the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup. And at times, we forget just how close Howard came to ending Chicago's run and carrying Detroit to the Western Conference finals in an outcome that might have further raised his profile like Crawford's. The Red Wings were up 2-1 in the third period of a Game 6 that could have eliminated Chicago and Howard's strong play that series was a huge reason.
Howard finished the 2013 playoffs with a .924 save percentage and in three Detroit wins over the eventual champs, allowed just two goals in a postseason that solidified him as a playoff performer. He gained international experience in the 2012 World Championships, where he went 5-2 with a .910 save percentage.
Custance lists the rest of the goalies in this order, 3. Ryan Miller, 4. Craig Anderson, 5. Cory Schneider and 6. John Gibson.
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