February 15, 2010
Luongo or Brodeur?
Update: Coach Babcock has made his decision. Clearly he sees it my way, as per follows!
The question Canadians have been debating seemingly forever gets a little closer to being answered tonight? Who will be Canada's goalie for the 2010 Olympics?
The real answer will not likely be known until game three or four of the tournament. In all likelihood Martin Brodeur and Roberto Luongo will alternate games one, against Norway, and two, against Switzerland. Whoever plays game three against USA will likely play the rest of the way, unless they have a meltdown against the Americans. Marc-Andre Fleury will likely be told he is the third goalie right from the start.
Traditionally, the goalie who is expected to be #1 will play the first game. That's why most people will be expecting Martin Brodeur to play against Norway, leaving Luongo to play the Swiss.
I would agree Brodeur, despite recent struggles, certainly has the resume to enter the tournament as #1. But if I were the coach, I would give Luongo game one, and Brodeur game two.
While we can never take Norway too lightly (this will be Norway's gold medal game in essence, after all), presumably we have the offense to win the game regardless of goaltending. So why not give Luongo, presumably Brodeur's back-up entering the tournament, that game.
That leaves Brodeur with a better challenge against the Swiss. With his recent struggles, this would allow him to "earn" his starting job against a tougher opponent.
Also, this would give Canada a puck handling goaltender against Switzerland. Despite lacking game-breaking offense, the Swiss are a more dangerous opponent with NHL goaltending and stifling defense. They will try to dump the puck in and get it back. With Brodeur free from any trapezoids at the Olympics, he will greatly eliminate the Swiss ability to do this. Luongo's game does not include this luxury.
Now all of this is subject to the coaching staff's thoughts on Brodeur's recent struggles. He was pulled in his last start, against the lowly Carolina Hurricanes. He has struggled immensely in February with a 2-3-1 record to go with a 3.15 goals-against average and a dismal .871 save percentage. But his career record arguably makes him the greatest goalie of all time.
Will Brodeur raise his game for the big games of the Olympics? Or do you go with Luongo who does not have nearly the same track record? Of course there is always Marc-Andre Fleury in the mix.
Picking the goalie is a bit of gamble, if only because Canada can not afford to be wrong in their choice.