Each Monday morning, we’ll rank the top contenders to man the pipes for Team Canada and Team USA in Sochi based on their play to date.
1. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres: He’s stopped 77 of the 80 shots he’s faced in two games behind a porous Buffalo defense, reminding everyone how well he responds when facing waves of pressure, but he’s now day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
2. Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators: He bested Miller in Saturday’s goaltending duel and boasts a .948 save percentage through two appearances, but the Sabres’ keeper gets the nod at No. 1 based strictly on my eye test.
3. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: Played well in his first two starts before being victimized by turnovers and general sloppiness in 4-1 loss to the Bruins. Looks like the No. 3 stopper he seems destined to be in Sochi.
4. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings: He was pulled from just his second start — ostensibly to spark a momentum shift — but Quick wasn’t particularly sharp while allowing four goals on 27 shots against the Jets on Friday.
5. Tim Thomas, Florida Panthers: It’ll take more than a couple of games to scrape off the rust that accumulated during his year-long sabbatical. He’s been inconsistent through two starts, but his familiar competitiveness was in ample evidence. Despite being overlooked for a camp invite, he’s in the mix.
1. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins: Renewed, refreshed and refocused after being rejected for a spot at Canada’s summer camp, Fleury bolted out of the gate with a pair of great starts. He stopped 47 of 48 shots while anchoring the Pens’ to over the Devils and Sabres.
2. Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes: He was better in a 4-1 loss to the Sharks on Saturday than he was in his 4-1 opening night win over the Rangers, but that might not be a good thing. Smith has always elevated his play while under heavy fire. He needs to prove he can be just as focused when the chances come less frequently, as they will behind a stout Canadian defense in Sochi.
3. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks: He played well enough behind a disengaged Vancouver squad in their opener, then rebounded nicely for a win at home against Edmonton. Luongo is a notoriously slow starter, so it’ll be interesting to gauge his next few appearances.
4. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens: Brutal in an opening night loss to the Leafs, much improved in a 22-save performance against the Flyers on Saturday. Tempering that excitement: it was the Flyers he beat.
5. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks: He has an .875 save percentage through his first two starts because he’s simply not making the stops he needs to make. Clearly not the start he was looking for.