Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Team Canada Goalies

Canada's Olympic camp is underway, and the invited goalies include Martin Brodeur, Marc-Andre Fleury, Roberto Luongo, Steve Mason and Cam Ward.

That lineup looks pretty good to me, it's nice to see they didn't pick a Turco or an Osgood just because of the "name" factor or because of team success. The only other guy who comes to mind that could have been there would be J.S. Giguere, who doesn't have much of an international track record and picked the wrong time to have a poor year. Carey Price was at one point considered the most likely candidate in the "young guy who's there for the experience" role but was leapfrogged by Mason.

I think the choices that matter (the starter and the backup) are pretty straightforward this time around: Just go with the same guys as before. Brodeur and Luongo have been the top 2 since the 2004 World Cup, and I expect both of them are already pencilled into the starting lineup. That leaves Ward and Fleury fighting it out for the chance to sit in the stands, unless I'm underestimating how much weighting will be put on the latter two guys' Cup rings and recent playoff heroics.

The debate over the third goalie on the team is one of those debates that are fun but pretty irrelevant in the big picture. Ward vs. Fleury is pretty close. I wouldn't want to have to make that decision right now, I'd prefer to wait a bit to see if the evidence suggests that Ward's 2008-09 second half was the result of improvement or merely a hot streak. If so I'd probably be leaning towards Ward, although I imagine Fleury's Cup ring likely gives him a bit of an edge with the selection committee at the moment. Again, that decision isn't likely to have any impact at all on the ice in Vancouver.

Mason had some good timing with his rookie year and he'll have the chance to make an impact on the Team Canada brass, although he's a longshot to get named. Mason's Calder Trophy has given him the coveted "young Canadian goalie of the future" mantle, although I wouldn't be at all surprised to see that flip around again this coming season if Mason hits a sophomore slump and Carey Price reverts to his 2007-08 form. It probably won't matter either way, as I don't think either have any chance at all to be wearing the Maple Leaf in Vancouver.


Anonymous said...

Who are the geniuses responsible for inviting Stevie "One Month Wonder" Mason?

Bruce said...

Anonymous: You talking about Steve "Calder Trophy" Mason? Steve "Second All-Star Team" Mason?

Yeah I know about awards. Still, the kid had a promising rookie season. He played 61 games at age 20, led the league in shutouts, and more importantly, backstopped the Blue Jackets to their first ever playoff berth. He has Team Canada pedigree in the World Juniors. He's definitely #5 on the depth chart at Olympic camp, but the Program of Excellence pays attention to detail. It's wise to look ahead to the future even while planning for the present. Guys like Mason, Doughty and Lucic may be long shots to make the 2010 team, but are already on the radar for 2014* and will benefit from this experience.

Anonymous said...

Guess what, One Month Wonder had a very good Ken Hitchcock team D in front of him and even then he wasn't consistent. Every month besides December '08 the kid was merely okay, if not terrible.

Pascal Leclaire had a better season in '07-08 both in terms of save percentage and GAA, but he is not given any credit because his Jackets, a much-inferior team, did not make the playoffs.

The Contrarian Goaltender said...

I tend to agree that Mason's 2008-09 season was generally overrated, but he did enough that I don't have a problem with him overtaking Carey Price for the token "give a young guy experience" slot. That doesn't necessarily mean I'd rather have Mason than Price, just that on recent form it's hard to contest that decision.

Lawrence said...

With Hitch on the team and 'reasonable' justification to have him there, I'm sure this was just heavily lobbied for by Columbus and Hitch to give the kid some experience. No harm, no foul. At least they knew he would embrace it. Veterans would see it as a waste of time to fight for the token 5th string spot? You need to build for the future and the Future is Ward, Fleury, Price and Mason at this juncture. Totally understandable.

Bruce said...

Wasn't Mason playing through mononucleosis for a chunk of the season? Might explain some of the inconsistency. His rookie-ness might explain the rest.

Some guys seem to have their detractors before their careers even start. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Gee whiz, Giguere never seemed to get any breaks when he played with hip flexors, dehydration, various groin strains, emotional anguish from his son's health problems or his dying dad/mother's Alzheimer's, etc.

If Stevie gets sympathy for playing with mono, J-S deserves the same for his health issues.

Corey Pronman said...

I would take Fleury, in my opinion hes underrated. I have no hard evidence to support this, but I've seen many, many Pens games over the years and whats hes done with thet horrid defense is amazing.

Lawrence said...

Anonymous, your arguing over a moot point - the 5th string spot, and someone who is not going to play for Team Canada. I could care less who it is, unless it was me, which also wouldn't matter. Giguere would only go if he thought he could be a 1a/1b, and that's not going to happen. No one will usurp Brodeur or Luongo at this point barring injury whether any of us on the internerd like it our not.