Ever since the 2010 US Men’s National Hockey team lost the gold medal game in heartbreaking fashion, many of the players have been dying for the chance to redeem themselves. One of the most outspoken of those who played in the Vancouver games was goalie Ryan Miller. He was outstanding throughout the tournament, earning himself MVP honors. But it didn’t matter, he wanted gold.
However, it appears that, as of now, he could be doing it as a backup.
It was announced this morning that Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick will be getting the starting nod for USA as they take on Slovakia tomorrow morning. Quick, who was third string on the 2010 team, will be getting his first ever Olympic start. The question is, for a team hell-bent on redemption, is this the right call?
In analyzing this question, you won’t get a ton of help from looking at this season’s stats for Quick and Miller. Quick has two more wins this season than Miller, however this may be a factor of each player’s current team. The former plays for the Kings, projected to make the playoffs, the latter for the Buffalo Sabres, current dumpster fire. Despite this, though, Miller actually has a better save percentage at the moment, .923 to Quick’s .911. Miller’s GAA is higher than Quick’s, but he’s also faced significantly more shots this year.
Disregarding stats, Miller has one thing Quick doesn’t; experience.
Sure, Quick was technically on the 2010 American roster, but he barely touched the ice, riding pine behind Miller and Tim Thomas. Miller has been here before, and played remarkably. Quick’s youth and career stats posted since the Vancouver games – including a Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup Championship – are all you can ask for, but we don’t know how he’ll perform on a global stage. However, we’ve seen what Miller can do.
Obviously, this is no easy call. Of course, it might not even be the final call. For example, Canada is starting Carey Price tomorrow against Norway, and their gold medal-winner Roberto Luongo the following game against Austria. It would make sense if USA would like to do the same thing; use the qualifying round as a slight feeling out process.
At the same time, the quicker you can establish the team’s No. 1 option, the better. The last thing the Americans want is a carousel in net as they approach the medal tournament.
So, it all comes back to the original question: is Quick the better option than Miller?
Personally, I believe it is. Quick just has a lot more going for him. He’s younger, has performed the best in the years between the Vancouver and Sochi games and appears more than ready to handle the task to be his country’s top goalie.
America is more than prepared if Quick falters, as Miller is an incredible option to have as backup, but don’t be surprised if a stellar performance against Slovakia all but cements Quick as the team’s starter. And if this is indeed the case, the US team is in a good place.