Does anyone have any evidence that experience helps goalies in playoff games and/or international tournaments? Anyone? I don't think I've ever seen anything that backs up that oft-used coaches' sentiment/broadcaster cliche. Olympic veterans Martin Brodeur and Evgeni Nabokov have been shaky, while Olympic rookies like Jonas Hiller and Ryan Miller have been great. In recent playoffs, a lot of young guys have done well and a lot of veterans haven't. I think talent should be the only deciding factor in picking a goalie.
When you focus on experience, you just end up being biased for one player over another based on them having played more games, and what it ends up being is tyranny of the status quo. I'm reminded of Canada coach Mike Babcock's comments prior to the Olympics. He said about his goaltenders, "I don't think it's a big secret that nobody was really on fire coming into the tournament for us." In hindsight I should have known right then and there that he was planning to go with Brodeur as his starter, because that's a ridiculous statement. The pre-tournament play between the goalies wasn't even close, it was Luongo by far. Luongo got pulled in his last start against Minnesota, in a game where his team was completely dominated. Somehow that supposedly defined him as stumbling into the Olympics, even though he was 8-2-0, 2.22, .926 in his previous 11 starts, the last five in a row played on the road. In his last 10 starts in the rink where the Olympics are being held, Luongo was 8-1-1, 1.89, .937.
Martin Brodeur was also pulled in his last pre-Olympic tuneup, the difference is that in his prior 11 he was just 4-5-2, 2.78, .884. If you're not even going to give Luongo the title of the hottest goalie heading into the Olympics, then you're already committed to the veteran incumbent no matter how much you talk about evaluating the play of both goalies.
I'm going to assume that Luongo's in net for the rest of the Olympics after Brodeur cost Team Canada the game against the U.S.A. But who knows, if you want to ignore puckstopping talent and recent form and dwell on past glories there's no doubt you can make the case for throwing Brodeur back in net against Germany. Some people are already making it in the media, led by Brodeur's biggest fan and autobiography co-author Damien Cox. But if Brodeur's puckhandling is a negative, as it was last night, then I don't see any justification to play him over Luongo at all. Brodeur's non-save skills are what makes it close between them in the first place, because the track record makes it abundantly clear that Luongo is the better puckstopper.
I still see goalie puckhandling is one of the most overrated skills in hockey. Every good play has a small positive value and every bad play has a huge negative value. At the end of the day I just don't see much of a difference being made. Having said that, of course Brodeur had a bad night with the puck yesterday. On a good day he can definitely help the team. To do that, though, he needs to play under a lot more control. If Brodeur thinks the team is better with him swinging wildly at the puck out of midair rather than having the best defenceman in the NHL this season (Duncan Keith) pick up the puck out of the corner, then he's really overrating his own ability.
I'm still not convinced Team Canada will actually change their netminder, because I think they probably already decided at some point that Brodeur was going to be their guy throughout the tournament and didn't expect to be in this situation. Hopefully they make their choice based on merit, not based on experience. Rating goalies based on one game is a terrible idea, and Brodeur has a decent chance of rebounding if he was to get the call for further games. However, if you want to run an organization that rewards good play and not just seniority then you simply have to hand over the reins when one guy drops the ball that badly. Especially when your backup goalie is likely as good as or better than your starter to begin with.