According to the Detroit Free Press, the U.S. Olympic goaltending group is set for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Helene St. James reports that Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard will snag the third goalie slot behind Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings and Ryan Miller for the Buffalo Sabres, who started for the U.S. in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and won silver.
A person with knowledge of the selection process told the Free Press on Sunday that it looked good for Howard’s inclusion among the three goaltenders who would be tasked with leading Team USA to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.
The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the team before the announcement.
Howard was at August’s Olympic Orientation camp, where he was considered a shoo-in after a very successful 2013. His shine lessened in November, when he delivered very average goaltending. Then he suffered a sprained left knee during a practice three weeks ago, casting his selection further into the dark.
Luckily for Howard, the competition didn’t push him out of the picture. Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators played himself out of contention with a putrid season, with a save percentage hovering around .900. Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils has better numbers, but couldn’t keep the crease when it was all but handed to him by the team, to the point where Martin Brodeur even admitted that he handed the keys to his backup.
Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning played himself into the conversation, but in the end it was Howard’s consistency and experience that kept him in contention for the backup gig.
Howard’s in his sixth NHL season, and has played for the U.S. in the world junior championship and at the IIHF world championship, where he was 5-2 with a 2.42 GAA in 2012 on the international ice of Helsinki and Stockholm.
It’s frankly less surprising that Howard made the team than it is that Miller will probably be the starter, having played outstandingly despite his team’s terrible season while Quick has been injured.
The full roster will be announced at the Winter Classic on Jan. 1.