Thursday, March 15, 2007

Team Canada World Championship 2007- Goalies

Since we're only weeks away from the end of the NHL regular season and the start of the IIHF World Championships, I'm sure Stevie Y and his crew have already began scouting and talking about possible roster combinations for said tournament. And I figure if he can speculate, so can I.

First up, the most important member of the team. Least season's entry aside, Team Canada has been recently blessed with a string of not just good goaltenders, but great goaltenders. The elder statesman, Sean Burke, was around for Canada first victory of the 00s, in 2003, but was replaced by Roberto Luongo in the final game due to injury. If you can believe it, way back then, Roberto was the backup to Sean Burke. Roberto returned again in 2004 where Canada won it a second straight time. Thanks to the lockout season in 2005, Canada was able to recruit the greatest goaltender of my time, Martin Brodeur who manged to garner a silver medal.

Unfortunately for Team Canada (and fans) the goaltending depth has dried up, or at least, dried up in teams not advancing to the playoffs. Here is the shortlist of goalies sure to be considered for a spot on Team Canada.

Sean Burke - He's about 80 years old, and hasn't played that much, but he's available, and he's a Team Canada veteran. He won an Olympic silver medal in 92 (thanks to THE Forsberg goal), and played for Canada in the '88 Olympics as well. Add that to his considerable WC experience, and he will at least be considered.

Dwayne Roloson - if there's been one common theme among the last several WC's, its been the presence of multiple Oilers. This is the first time though, that the Oilers have had an elligible goalie to add to Team Canada's roster (Ty Conklin went one year, and believe it or not, was the star for team USA, leading them to a very unlikely bronze). Now Dwayne is coming off his busiest year ever, and he's hardly been a Team Canada regular, but he's both an Oiler and arguably the best goalie available.

Curtis Joseph - This potential entry leads me to my coach speculation, but I would be suprised if Gretzky wasn't involved some how. The important question is; does Gretzky think Joseph has had a good season? Cujo has been involved with Canada multiple times but has never been able to bring home the bacon (2nd place, 1996 World Cup, Loss vs. Sweden, 2002).

Patrick Lalime - plucked out of obscurity after unfairly being fingered as 'the problem' in Ottawa, Lalime went on to post some fairly respectable numbers this year playing for a terrible 'Hawks team. However, his lack of a winning history, Team Canada experience, and his age make him a true longshot.

Manny Legace - Legace got outgoaltended by Roloson in last year's playoffs and his prohpetic conclusion came true - he was let go by his Redwings team. However, Manny's had a respectable year playing for a less than respectable club, and has a history with Team Canada, bringing home a Gold Medal for the U-20 team in 1993 (and being named top goalie of the tournament) and won a Olympic Silver in 1994.

Alex Auld - Started last year's WC team as the number one goalie before coaches let Marc Denis take over. Hasn't had a great year and is hurt so is a very long shot to make the team.

Ed Belfour - Despite being almost 42 years old, the Eagle has managed to post an above .500 season (thus far) on a very marginal hockey team. He isn't the Eddie of old but I think he's still capable of winning. That said, I think Eddie is the most likely goaltender to turn down an invitation owing both to his necessary extra recovery time and his strange personality.

Andrew Raycroft - Raycroft went from rookie wonder to sophmore slump to a question mark. But he has managed to post a pretty decent winning record this year despite being playing behind the likes of McCabe, Gill and Kubina, which is impressive in of itself. If he handles playing in T.O. this well this early, I think he's probably mentally ready (pressure wise) to play in a mid level tournament like the WC.

Cam Ward - Ward and his 'Canes could still end up in the playoffs, but if he doesn't, he's a lock to be asked to play for Team Canada. There's nothing more the Canadian scouts like more than winning, and Ward not only won the Cup last year, he won the Conn Smythe. Also likely to make the team because the WC's tend to be a testing ground for young players, and Ward is a possible Canadian goaltending heir apparent.

1a. Cam Ward
1b. Dwayne Roloson
2. Manny Legace

Best Guess:
1. Dwayne Roloson
2. Manny Legace
3. Alex Auld

next up: Coaching Staff

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