Canada announced its hockey roster for next month’s Sochi Olympics on Tuesday, and the roster, as expected, is loaded with some of the NHL’s elite players.
With 11 gold medalists, four Rocket Richard trophy winners, two Hart Trophy winners, two Norris Trophy winners, multiple Stanley Cup champions and a Conn Smythe winner, this might be Canada’s best roster the country has ever sent to an Olympics. Ranging from players like Sidney Crosby, Corey Perry and Jonathan Toews, Canada has no shortage of talent, especially at the forward position.
But if Canada does have one question mark heading into the Games, it will be who will perform in the net. Canada named Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo, Montreal’s Carey Price and Phoenix’s Mike Smith as its three goalies for the Sochi 2014 Olympics when the team announced its roster Jan. 7. Luongo and Price are expected to compete for the starting spot, while Smith is considered to be the No. 3 goaltender.
Luongo, who was Canada’s starting goalie during the country’s gold-medal run at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, has been battling injury problems recently, and his health is a major concern heading into Sochi.
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On Jan. 4, Luongo suffered an undisclosed injury in a collision, and, previous to playing in that game, he missed three straight with a groin injury. Canada is hoping those injuries will be behind Luongo when the team begins the Olympics against Norway on Feb. 13.
Luongo was strong for Canada at the Vancouver Games, posting a 1.76 goals-against average and .927 save percentage. Over the past decade, Luongo’s save percentage, .922, is the second-best in the NHL. But he’s struggled over the last several seasons, leaving experts to wonder how he will perform in Sochi.
Price, 26, is currently in the middle of the best season of his career, with a .928 save percentage. He has been better statistically than Luongo this season, but has never competed in an Olympics. However, Price has represented Canada at the international level, the last time at the 2007 world junior championships. During that tournament, he went 6-0 with two shutouts, a 1.14 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage en route to winning the gold medal.
Regardless of his current Olympic experience, Price is thought of by many to be Canada’s goalie of the future, so expect him to at least see some action in these Olympics, even if he is not the starter.
Smith currently leads the NHL in shots against and saves, but has also allowed more goals than any other NHL starting goaltender. He is currently in his third year with the Phoenix Coyotes, posting a 16-10-8 record with a 2.89 GAA and .911 save percentage.
Chances are the Coyotes' goalie will be the third option for Canada, but he has said all season he just wants to be on the roster.
Hockey action begins in Sochi on Feb. 12, with the gold medal game on Feb. 23.
Nick Forrester contributed to this report.