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2014 Sochi Games- Goalies


2014 Sochi Games- Goalies

With the Olympic torch lit, and the 2012 London Games well underway, is already looking ahead to the 2014 Sochi Games.

NHL player participation in the next Winter Olympics is still pending approval from the Board of Governors in the next CBA, but assuming that the best players in the world will be made available to the worlds biggest stage, the United States should be in the mix for another podium finish.

In the days ahead will examine USA Hockeys 2014 Mens Olympic roster position by position, beginning today with the goalies.

For years the games best netminders have hailed primarily from Canada, but the rest of the world appears to have caught up.

Since 1994, only two Canadians have won the Vezina Trophy as the NHLs best goalie (Martin Brodeur x4 and Jose Theodore) and in 2004 Nikolai Khabibulin (Russia) and Mikka Kiprusoff (Finland) became the first European goalies to square off in the Stanley Cup Finals.

But is this a golden age for U.S. goalies? Consider that in 2009 and 2010 Tim Thomas and Ryan Miller became the first Americans to win the Vezina Trophy in back-to-back years (Thomas then won again in 2011).

And the success of the American goalie also extends to the Stanley Cup Finals where Thomas (2011) and Jonathan Quick (2012) became the first Americans to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as Playoff MVP in consecutive years.

As USA Hockey looks towards the 2014 Sochi Games, goaltending may be its deepest position.

JONATHAN QUICK (Los Angeles Kings): The Milford, CONN native led the NHL last season with 10 shutouts, finished second with a 1.95 goals-against-average and was the runner-up for the Vezina Trophy. This was all before he had even backstopped the Los Angeles Kings to an improbable Stanley Cup win.

Quick, 26, was rewarded at seasons end with a ten-year contract extension and he may just be USA Hockeys No.1 goalie for the next decade as well.

Quick was the Americans No.3 goalie at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

JIMMY HOWARD (Detroit Red Wings): Only three goalies have won more games the past two years than the 28-year-old, Syracuse, NY native. It should also be noted though, that only three teams have scored more goals than Detroit has over those same two years.

Unlike Quick who had to be exceptional just to get the 29th ranked offense into the playoffs last season, Howard just had to be good enough with the high-scoring Red Wings. In a short tournament where so much of a teams success can lie with a hot goalie (see Hasek, 1998, Czech Republic or Miller, 2010, USA), Howard may not be that dominant goalie who can steal games.

Howard was the Americans No.1 goalie at the 2012 World Hockey Championships.

CORY SCHNEIDER (Vancouver Canucks): Two years after Roberto Luongo backstopped Team Canada to the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games, Schneider has replaced Luongo as the Canucks No.1 goalie.

While Luongo has had his struggles in Vancouver, the steady play of Schneider, 26, led to a three-year 12 million deal this summer and a clear message from Canucks management that their future lies with the Salem, MASS native.

Schneider finished second last season with a .937 save percentage and he was third with a 1.96 GAA but it remains to be seen how he will do as a fulltime starter. The first-round pick (26th overall) from the 2006 NHL Entry Draft has 56 career NHL starts.

Schneider has not played on USA Hockeys Mens National Team, but he played with the U.S. at the 2004 World U-18 Championships and at the 2005 and 2006 World Junior Championships.

RYAN MILLER (Buffalo Sabres): Miller set the record straight at the 2010 Vancouver Games that he was the best goalie in the world. He went 5-0-0 in leading the U.S. to the gold medal game before falling 3-2 in overtime against the host Canadians. He was named tournament MVP and finished with a .946 SV and an Olympic record 1.35 GAA. Months later he won his first career Vezina Trophy.

But since that magical run in 2010 when he finished second in the NHL in both SV and GAA, Millers numbers have dropped significantly. The East Lansing, MI native has finished outside the top-15 in SV and outside of the top-20 in GAA in each of the past two years.

In addition to starting for the U.S. in 2010, the 32-year-old was a backup for the U.S. at the 2006 Turin Games.

TIM THOMAS (Boston Bruins): It remains unclear if Thomas will ever play in the NHL again let alone represent the U.S. in Sochi in 2014. Shortly after the Washington Capitals eliminated the Bruins from the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Thomas announced on his Facebook page that would sit out the 2012-13 season.

After a dream season in 2010-11 which saw Thomas lead the NHL with a 2.00 GAA and .938 SV and win the Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophies (plus that big silver mug they hand out at the end of the year), the Flint, MI native dropped to 10th in GAA and SV last year.

Thomas also drew attention for all the wrong reasons when he refused to join his teammates for their visit to the White House and took to social media to share his political opinions.

Unless Thomas returns to the NHL in 2013-14 and can display his 2011 form, its hard to imagine USA Hockey bringing someone along who could potentially use the Olympic stage to make more political statements and serve as a distraction to the team.

Thomas has represented the U.S. at five World Championships and he was the Americans backup goalie at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

Ben Bishop (Ottawa Senators), Craig Anderson (Ottawa Senators), Richard Bachman (Dallas Stars), Scott Clemmensen (Florida Panthers)

Which goalies do you think will represent the United States at the 2014 Sochi Games? Share your comments below. Check back on in the days to come for other positions.

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NHL Playoff 2019 Roundup: Blues pull even with Sharks with 2-1 win

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NHL Playoff 2019 Roundup: Blues pull even with Sharks with 2-1 win

The St. Louis Blues' two-goal first period powered them to a win over the San Jose Sharks, and the series is now tied.

The Blues started with a goal 35 seconds into the game. Ivan Barbashev picked off a Brent Burns exit pass and flung it towards the net for the games opening goal. 

Barbashev is the second Blues player to score in the first minute of a game these playoffs. Jaden Schwartz is the other player.

Tyler Bozak scored the game-winning goal for the Blues on a power play off a scramble in front of the net.

The Sharks responded when Thomas Hertl poked the puck past the goal line after Jordan Binnington thought he had the puck covered. Hertl now has 10 goals this postseason for the Sharks, and the team now features 10 or more players to score 10+ goals in the playoffs for the second time in franchise history.

Binnington's 29 save performance gave him his 10th win of the playoffs, the most of any Blues goaltender in franchise history.


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Soccer could be the key to fixing the NHL's video replay and officiating problem

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Soccer could be the key to fixing the NHL's video replay and officiating problem

In Game 3 of the Western Conference Final, just about everyone in the world saw San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier bat the puck with his hand to teammate Gustav Nyquist in the offensive zone. Nyquist then passed the puck over to Erik Karlsson who scored the overtime winner. It was a goal that never should have counted because of the obvious hand pass.

The St. Louis Blues players saw it, the fans saw it, everyone at home saw it. Heck, even the NHL saw it, as Meier was credited with an assist on the play.

The only four people who did not see it, however, were the four people who mattered most. Both referees and linesmen missed it and no hand pass was called.

The hand pass was obvious after watching the replay, but per NHL rules, hand passes are not reviewable. The goal stood and the Sharks won what felt like a tainted game.

Officiating and video review have become a major topic of conversation during the 2019 postseason after several botched calls on the ice that could have easily been overturned upon review. No one wants to see the game slowed down by multiple lengthy reviews, but this postseason is a clear indication that more video review is needed. When referees are making series-altering decisions that anyone can see from a quick replay is incorrect, that’s a problem.

In the wake of the controversies we have seen this postseason, there are bound to be many suggestions over how the NHL can expand video replay to get this right. The problem with every suggestion – and the reason many detractors do not want to see video review expanded – is the fear of unintended consequences.

The offside review, for example, was prompted by a goal scored by Matt Duchene in 2013 in which he was at least 10 feet offside. The rule was implemented to prevent plays like this. Instead, now goals are broken down frame by frame, pixel by pixel to see if a player’s skate may have been over the blue line even if that player had nothing to do with the play. Just ask the Colorado Avalanche, who had a game-tying goal in Game 7 of the second round this year erased because Gabriel Landeskog was headed for a line change and took too long to get on the bench.

The fear over slowing the game down and unintended consequences are legitimate, but they cannot be an excuse to not help the officials. Instead, the NHL has to find a system that limits reviews to catch the egregious mistakes that are more black and white.

Luckily for the NHL, there is a sport that has a rule like this already in practice.

Most Americans do not follow soccer all that closely, but FIFA has had a videa assistant referee system (VAR) for years now. It was implemented for the 2018 World Cup and there is no bigger stage in world sports than the FIFA World Cup.

How does it work?

Each game has a video assistant referee who reviews calls made by the referee during the game. There are only four types of incidents that can be reviewed: goals, penalty decisions (meaning specifically penalty kick decisions), red card decisions and mistaken identity (if the wrong player is given a red or yellow card). While these rules limit what can and cannot be reviewed, they are also broad enough to encompass all significant instances of a game.

A similar system can be implemented in hockey that will eliminate what we all most want taken out of the game: egregious officiating mistakes.

Let’s say, for example, the NHL stipulates that every scoring play, major penalty and perhaps some of the more black and white minor penalty calls such as delay of game are now reviewable. First off, this system takes reviews out of the hands of the coaches. Coaches should not be in charge of whether or not a game is officiated correctly and a bad call should not be allowed to stand just because a coach does not have a challenge. Second, making all goals reviewable for any reason would allow for the easy denial of plays like Duchene’s obvious offside goal or the missed hand pass on Meier. That is what a VAR would be looking for, not if a player’s skate was a millimeter offside.

The insane standard to which offside is now called based on the offside challenge would essentially be gone if you stipulate in the rules that a VAR in hockey would have until the puck drops to notify the referee of a review. That would only allow for the VAR to watch for the more obvious calls. Third, if all you are looking for are the obvious calls, none of these reviews should take much time at all. Fourth, this would not take the human element out of the game. Referees must make subjective calls throughout the course of the game. The VAR is not there to argue if something is a soft call, he is there to inform the referee of the possibility that he just got a call flat out wrong.

By leaving situations in which plays can be reviewed as broad while also keeping the time in which a review can be called rather short, this would ensure only the really bad calls are fixed. In the end, that should be the goal.

The NHL desperately needs a video review system in place that can better help the referees. If the whole world can see Meier’s hand pass, the people with the ability to make the call should too. Yes, expanding review can open a Pandora’s box of unintended consequences, but soccer’s system has had success in both limiting bad mistakes by officials without overly slowing down the game. They have shown it is possible and have provided a blueprint in which the NHL desperately needs to follow.