The U.S. men’s hockey team has announced its captain for the Sochi Olympics, but head coach Dan Bylsma hasn’t given any clarity as to who the Americans will have as their starting goaltender.
It’s expected to be one of three guys: Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres, and Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings. But which of them will get the nod when the U.S. begins its slate of round-robin games on Feb. 13 against Slovakia?
“That’s not a question I’m ready to answer for right now,” Bylsma said to reporters today in a media teleconference. “Whether I know it or not, you’re not going to find out today.”
Bylsma visited with Quick after he allowed three goals on only seven shots and was yanked 20 minutes into a 4-1 loss to Bylsma’s Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night. Quick has lost five of his last six starts, but up to his poor showing against the Pens, that had been primarily put down to the Kings’ lack of scoring.
Miller, like Quick, has done relatively well despite not having much goal support. On Thursday, he stopped 38 shots in a 3-2 Sabres win over Phoenix and despite a 14-20-3 record, he still carries a .927 save percentage. Then there’s Howard, who is expected to return to the ice for the Red Wings tonight after a four-game absence due to a knee injury.
If history is an indication, the U.S. is likely to go ahead with multiple goalies throughout the Olympics, as they’ve done in every Olympics since 1980. Bylsma did note today that he didn’t philosophically believe in ideally sticking with one goalie for an entire tournament.
The closest they’ve come to using a sole goalie during that period was at Nagano in 1998, when John Vanbiesbrouck came in for a 49-second stint during the Americans’ quarterfinal loss to the Czech Republic.