Remember almost 4 years ago when Ryan Miller was probably the world's best goaltender? Not only was he the Vezina Trophy winner that year, but he was also the MVP of the Vancouver Olympics and almost led Team USA to the gold medal over Team Canada. It seemed like Ryan Miller was unstoppable and was gonna lead Buffalo to glory.
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Almost 4 years later, Ryan Miller's game has slowed down. He's now 33 years old and part of a young team that is in "re-build" mode. He is still a good starting goaltender, but not at the level he was back in 2009-2010. Since the 2009-2010 season, Miller has posted a 2.64 GAA and a .916 save percentage. Ryan Miller's spotlight is fading in Buffalo, and Jhonas Enroth is about to take the stage at goaltender.
But can Ryan Miller make it back to the Team USA roster? Fight for revenge against Canada and beat the hometown Russians in Sochi? He's got a tough battle ahead, that's for sure. He's gotta beat out guys like Jonathan Quick, Jimmy Howard, Craig Anderson, Cory Schneider, and young John Gibson.
Jonathan Quick is almost a lock to start for Team USA with his impressive performances over the past few years for the Los Angeles Kings. The 27-year old Quick has put up a 2.21 GAA over the past three seasons, and a .916 save percentage in that time too. Quick was the 3rd string goaltender in Vancouver when Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas were one and two respectively in net.
Jimmy Howard is going to have his work cut out for him as well. Howard has been good for Detroit over the past few years, but has not lead the team past the 2nd round since they went to the Cup Finals in 2009. Howard, 29, has posted a 2.34 GAA, and a .917 save percentage in the last three seasons.
Craig Anderson has been an "under-the-radar" type of goaltender for years now, and has just had his real emergence year this past season with Ottawa. Anderson is 32, but is playing the best hockey of his career right now, posting a 2.19 GAA and a .931 save percentage since being acquired by Ottawa from Colorado in the 2010-11 season. Is Anderson the surprise candidate to make Team USA's roster?
Cory Schneider was recently traded to New Jersey at the NHL Draft, and is another young player on the rise. Schneider has been in a tussle with Canada's Roberto Luongo for the starting job in Vancouver. Now he will be backing up Canada's Martin Brodeur in New Jersey for at least a year or two. The 27-year old Schneider has posted an average of 2.10 GAA and a .931 save percentage in the past three season in Vancouver. Can Schneider beat his new teammate and former teammate for the gold (if he makes it)?
The toughest goalie to have at the roster is young, 20-year old John Gibson. Gibson helped Team USA in the U20 World Juniors to gold this past winter. He also played for Team USA at the World Championships, however he was unable to win gold there. Gibson hasn't even played an NHL game with Anaheim yet, but he is already being a highly regarded goaltender around the world. Can he beat the veterans and make the roster?
So who do I think makes the cut?
Ryan Miller is going to lose out to the young group of US goaltenders in play to make the roster. As I said, Jonathan Quick will most likely lead Team USA onto the ice in game 1 of the Sochi Olympics. Craig Anderson will prove to be the grizzly veteran on the roster to lead the young guns by example, and Cory Schneider will be in the hole in case anything goes wrong with the other two.
However, we do not have a crystal ball that can look into the future to see what will happen. Maybe someone will get hurt, or someone will just have an off year and play poorly during the season or at try-outs. Miller will have a good opportunity, but in the end, I cannot seeing it happen right now.
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