naslund.is.king Posted July 23, 2013 Share Posted July 23, 2013 Courtest of Sportsnet,Luke Fox Even after the Vancouver Canucks had been eliminated from contention and his “my contract sucks” season of tossed emotions and false-start trades came to a close, gold medallist Roberto Luongo remained self-deprecating about his status as a starting goaltender. “#REIMS4SOCHI,” Luongo, the last goalie to log minutes for Team Canada’s Olympic team, tweeted as Manitoba’s James Reimer stood on his head for a Toronto Maple Leafs squad that lasted longer in the playoffs than the Canucks. “#RASK4SOCHI,” Luongo tweeted as the Boston Bruins’ Tuukka stole Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final with a 33-save gem. Though he conceded Rask’s Finnish citizenship might be an obstacle. “I don’t care get him a passport.” Through his comments, Vancouver’s new-old-new starting netminder was no doubt doling out digital high-fives to his peers, but intentionally or not, @Strombone1 was bringing up that other No. 1 role of his. A passive-aggressive reminder to fans and committee members that while the Vancouver Canucks might not believe he’s the guy, he‘d still like to represent Canucks (broader sense of the term) next February in Russia. “#LUONGO4SOCHI,” however, isn’t exactly a trending hashtag. Upon last check, one guy tweeted it. He’s based in Montreal, Luongo’s hometown. Still, the Olympic gig should be Lu’s to lose. “He was the goalie when we won in Vancouver and performed well in that tournament for us,” Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman said Monday. “He’s an experienced goaltender. With the changes made in Vancouver now, I assume he will play a lot in the first half of the season, which will bode well for Canada in terms of his hopes of being on this team.” If we adhere to the safe coach’s goaltending mantra – win and stay in – the 34-year-old should be given the keys to Team Canada’s hotly contested crease. Luongo went a perfect five-for-five with a shutout during 2010’s golden run, posting a .927 save percentage and 1.75 goals-against average against the world’s best. He crams a load of experience (a Cup final, two Winter Games, three world championships medals, and a World Cup gold) into his Sochi carry-on, and best of all, fresh inspiration. Not since June 2011 has Luongo been given the opportunity to play out a full playoff series. Sochi presents an opportunity to prove to his doubters, his supporters, his country and himself that he can still perform on the highest stage. And considering the coin-flipping fiasco of 2013 and the awkward dual adjustment of regaining his Vancouver starting role because of an immovable contract and taking instruction from high-profile coach John Tortorella, Luongo could be the one man who finds shade in the Olympic spotlight. “In goal, there’s a whole bunch of guys vying for that job,” head coach Mike Babcock said. “It’s not a lockdown job like it has been in the past, so the first three months of the season are going to be very important for making that decision.” Granted, Luongo’s shot at that No. 1 spot rides on his early-season play, but we’d give him the crease 4 Sochi. Here are the other Canadian goaltenders angling for the gig, which will be cut down to a final three sometime in December. The rest of the Olympic camp invitees… Corey Crawford: “Corey Crawford was the goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks, who won the Stanley Cup,” said Yzerman, stating the obvious. But it’s really the only line one needs on a resume: last goaltender to win the Cup. Plus, the guy knows how to deliver a victory speech. Carey Price: The 25-year-old Vancouver native went undefeated with two shutouts en route to world juniors gold in 2007, but Price’s yucky 9-20 NHL playoff record with 2.90 goals against raises eyebrows. Should play well under new Habs goaltending guru Stephane Waite. Mike Smith: Canada’s choice for the 2013 IIHF world championships was the reason the Phoenix Coyotes reached the conference finals in 2012. If Smith can start the season hot, he’s a great darkhorse. Braden Holtby: A mildly surprising invite to camp, we’d be shocked if the 23-year-old gets the crease. Still, the unflappable Holtby has proven he can perform when it counts (2.04 GAA and .931 save percentage in 21 career playoff games) and could be the guy in four years. And the goaltenders whose invite got lost in the mail… Martin Brodeur: The lovable Brodeur had his record blemished by Team Canada’s only loss (and thus lost his starting role, to Luongo) in 2010. At 41, he’s not too old for the cover of NHL 14, but Yzerman and Co. have turned to younger blood. Marc-Andre Fleury: My, how this man’s stock has plummeted. The No. 3 goalie on Vancouver’s 2010 roster has played his way off the national team through his gaffes in the Penguins’ last two postseasons. Cam Ward: The 29-year-old has a pair of world championships medals (gold in 2007, silver in 2008), but he suffered a season-ending knee injury in March. If Ward stands on his head in October and November, he could make enough noise to earn a plane ticket. #LUONGO4SOCHI Bring home Gold Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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