Four years ago Team Canada won Olympic gold with Marc-Andre Fleury serving as third-string goalie behind Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur. The Flower never dressed in any elimination games at Vancouver 2010 but he was on the team. Will he be a member of the 2014 version of Team Canada that travels to Sochi, Russia in February? It’s debatable.
For all his struggles in recent playoff tournaments coupled with a lack of individual goaltending decoration in the form of trophies, Fleury is off to a great start to this season. The former 1st overall draft pick has solid numbers. With 12 wins Fleury sits second best in the league behind Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks. Crawford may outdo Fleury for a spot representing Canada.
In 2010, Fleury played third-string, probably earning the edge over other goalies after winning the Stanley Cup only months prior with the Pittsburgh Penguins. If the same logic is applied (bring last year’s Cup winner) to the construction of the 2014 team, Crawford will be the defending Cup champion goalie who gets the call.
This is not official, but it’s safe to say Roberto Luongo will return as a member of Team Canada. He’s been there before – played in the winning game back in 2010. Luongo has experience and no Canadian goalie has emerged over the last four years to render him irrelevant. Bobby Lou probably makes the squad. That leaves two spots open for several on-the-bubble Canadian netminders including: Carey Price, Mike Smith, Braden Holtby, Cam Ward, Crawford, potentially one of the Leafs goaltenders James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier, and of course, Fleury. Maybe Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils is ultimately chosen as a third guy – he’s won two gold medals, and to be fair, he can still play.
Team Canada is likely to announce their final roster a few days before the December 31st deadline. Until then, unless a couple of Canadian goaltenders really start to stand out, predicting which netminders make the cut will be very difficult. We’ll just have to wait and see.