TRAIKOS: With Carey Price’s future in doubt, Canada left with question marks in goal at Olympics

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When Staff Canada needed to submit a “lengthy listing” of gamers into account for the 2022 Olympics on Friday, GM Doug Armstrong was given a particular exemption permitting him to submit a good longer listing that included six goalies.


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A part of it is because Carey Value stays within the NHL/NHLPA participant help drawback and is a query mark heading towards Beijing. However even when Value is ready to play, the query marks aren’t essentially going away.

“There’s going to be some fascinating names on this listing,” Armstrong stated in a telephone interview with Postmedia on Friday.

“Fascinating” will not be precisely a phrase that has been beforehand used to explain Canada’s goaltending state of affairs on the worldwide stage. From Patrick Roy to Martin Brodeur to Roberto Luongo to Value, Canada has a storied historical past of manufacturing among the finest — if not, the most effective — goalies on the planet.

It has been the nation’s power. It’s specialty.

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Immediately, with nobody certain if Value will play — or how efficient the Montreal Canadiens goaltender shall be after lacking vital time — and a set of backup choices that features Jordan Binnington (St. Louis), Mackenzie Blackwood (New Jersey), Marc-Andre Fleury (Chicago), Carter Hart (Philadelphia) and Darcy Kuemper (Colorado), Canada’s goaltending has the potential to develop into its Achilles’ heel.


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“We have been spoiled,” stated Armstrong. “With Marty and Patrick, and guys like Eddie (Belfour) and Cujo (Curtis Joseph) have been on that listing, you felt comfy irrespective of how far down the listing you went.

“Now the star is from Russia. And now, we’re ready for that subsequent star.”

Value apart, none of Canada’s goaltenders would usurp Andrei Vasilevskiy, Sergei Bobrovsky, Semyon Varlamov and even Ilya Shesterkin on Russia’s roster. Then once more, possibly we should always maintain off on our opinions till the match begins.

In spite of everything, the Olympics have a method of cementing legacies in a method the NHL common season and even playoffs can’t.

St. Louis Blues netminder Jordan Binnington, who won a Stanley Cup in 2019, could be one of the top options to be the starting goalie at the Beijing Games. GETTY IMAGES
St. Louis Blues netminder Jordan Binnington, who gained a Stanley Cup in 2019, may very well be one of many prime choices to be the beginning goalie on the Beijing Video games. GETTY IMAGES

Who is aware of? Perhaps Binnington, who gained a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues in 2019, turns into that subsequent star for Canada. Or possibly it’s Kuemper, who final spring gained a gold medal on the world championship. Maybe there’s some life left in Fleury, who’s coming off a Vezina Trophy-winning season. Or somebody a lot youthful, like 24-year-old Blackwood or Hart, 23, steps up in the identical method {that a} 26-year-old Value did when he gained gold on the 2014 Olympics.


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For the second, nevertheless, it seems to be the weakest assortment of goaltenders that Canada has ever had for a significant occasion.

It’s not simply Value who’s a query mark. Blackwood, who’s unvaccinated, has but to play a recreation this season. Binnington’s final worldwide expertise was on the world juniors, the place he was the backup goalie for a workforce that misplaced within the bronze-medal recreation.

Veteran Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has struggled mightily this season after winning the Vezina Trophy with Vegas last year. GETTY IMAGES
Veteran Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has struggled mightily this season after profitable the Vezina Trophy with Vegas final 12 months. GETTY IMAGES

Fleury, who’s a month away from celebrating his thirty seventh birthday, is 0-3-0 with a 5.63 goals-against common since being traded to Chicago. Kuemper has spent a profession on non-playoff groups. And Hart is coming off a season wherein he had the worst goals-against common amongst beginning goalies.

With that in thoughts, the place would you rank Canada’s depth of goalies?


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You clearly wouldn’t put them forward of Russia. The identical goes for the USA, the place Connor Hellebuyck and John Gibson type top-of-the-line worldwide tandems. Sweden has Robin Lehner and Jacob Markstrom. Germany has Philipp Grubauer and Thomas Greiss. Even Finland, which can or might not have Tuukka Rask, has choices which may appear extra interesting.

It’s a superb factor Canada has a ahead corps led by Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. Judging by the standard of its goalies — and the uncertainty with its defence — the workforce may need to attain its method out of hassle.

“I might say that we’re going to really feel very comfy with whoever is in web,” stated Armstrong. “We’re not going into this match considering we’ve to attain six objectives to win.”


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Flyers goaltender Carter Hart was shaky last season and hasn’t been off to a great start this year. But he should still be in the mix in the discussions about Team Canada’s goaltending. USA TODAY SPORTS
Flyers goaltender Carter Hart was shaky final season and hasn’t been off to an awesome begin this 12 months. However he ought to nonetheless be within the combine within the discussions about Staff Canada’s goaltending. USA TODAY SPORTS

Perhaps Armstrong is correct. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled, and the goaltending, whereas not pretty much as good in earlier years, is healthier than we’re giving it credit score for. Perhaps we’ll be shocked at what we see. Perhaps Canada will play such sturdy workforce defence that it gained’t even matter. However we most likely would really feel much more comfy in regards to the place had the Olympics been performed 4 years in the past and gamers similar to Hart, Binnington or Blackwood had been given an opportunity to get their ft moist.

As a substitute, with Value’s standing unclear, this altering of the guard appears abrupt, even whether it is inevitable.

“That technology is beginning to age out,” stated Armstrong. “And there’s an entire new group of gamers which can be going to be on the forefront. As a result of we didn’t take part in 2018, there’s a technology that might have been built-in there. That is going to clearly be a giant transition.

“You’d prefer to see how gamers carry out. However there’s going to be guys with little worldwide expertise.”



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