First, let’s get this out of the way. It’s a good problem to have. At some point, Dan Bylsma is going to have to choose between Ryan Miller and Jonathan Quick as the Team USA starting goalie, and it’s like calling a coin toss when you know both sides are tails. Really, he can’t lose.
But, in bringing back so much of the core group from the 2010 silver medal-winning team, the goalie debate is the one big difference between that American team and the one heading to Sochi to try and improve on that silver.
In 2010, they were just as loaded in goal with Miller, Tim Thomas and a younger Quick, but there was a clear starter.
“Going in, clearly I thought Ryan Miller was the better goalie and had a style that is suited for playing against the kind of teams we were going to be playing -- going East and West,” 2010 Team USA coach Ron Wilson said when we chatted this week. “It ended up being the right decision.”
To say the least.
Bylsma has said he has a plan going into the tournament, but despite the best attempts of myself and others, he hasn’t unveiled it with the openness of Mike Babcock who said both Roberto Luongo and Carey Price will get playing time early in the tournament.
It means we get to overanalyze the American goalie situation:
The former Olympic coach’s position: With his World Cup gold and Olympic silver, Ron Wilson has an international resume as good as any American coach not named Herb Brooks. After Bylsma got the job, he visited Wilson for some insight on coaching in these tournaments. Bylsma clearly values Wilson’s opinion, and Wilson is not against the Team Canada strategy of splitting the early starts between the best two goalies.
“Babcock said he’s going to pick a different goalie for each of the first two games and go with the guy who he thinks plays best and decide from there,” Wilson said. “I kind of think that’s what Dan should do.”
That said, Wilson still leans towards settling on Miller, the goalie who won the tournament MVP in 2010 and helped the Americans secure the silver.