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World Cup of Hockey: Price Still Right For Canada

World Cup of Hockey: Price Still Right For Canada

If there is a crisis in Canadian goaltending, you won’t find evidence for it at World Cup of Hockey.

Canada’s trio of Carey Price, Braden Holtby, and Corey Crawford is the deepest in the tournament, featuring the last two Vezina winners and a “third stringer” who could usurp the starter on several teams.

Despite Holtby’s award-winning season, even he believes the starter’s role should go to Price, making the presumed marching order 1. Price  2. Holtby  3. Crawford.

Carey Price 

 Games PlayedSV%5 vs 5 SV%HD SV%Record
2015-16 Pro Season12.934.939.81710-2-0

Win a Day with Carey Price Backkground-1Visitors to this world might be misled by Price’s 2015-16 stat line: an MCL injury sidelined him for all but 12 games. Now fully healed, Price made it clear this summer he was feeling like his “old self” physically, a claim that has held up against the world’s best shooters. As for the possibility of rust after nearly 10 months between games, there were some clear signs Price wasn’t yet his old self early in pretournament play.

Price didn’t look as fluid as he normally does during a 4-2 loss against Team USA, uncharacteristically missing his posts and getting caught off angle a couple times. It was alarming to see Price look so uncomfortable on his posts because of how hard he’s always worked to perfect those movements. Of course, Price doesn’t do a lot of really technical work during the offseason in Kelowna, preferring instead to take part in informal skates that resemble NHL practices and end with a shinny-style scrimmage, so maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that it took a little time to dial in his technique after such a short training camp.

It also shouldn’t be surprising that Price did tighten up in short order with his Canadiens goalie coach Stephane Waite also part of Team Canada’s staff. The early movement delays and missed posts were mostly gone by the time Price’s second pretournament start, a 3-2 win against Team Russia, and there were no signs left by the time he stopped 27 shots in a 6-0 win against Team Czech Republic to open the round robin portion of the World Cup.

That win extended Price’s shutout streak on the international stage to to 224 minutes dating back to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, which he finished with a .977 save percentage and a gold medal. With signs he is nearing, if not already at, that form again at the World Cup, Canada may be unbeatable.

Click here to see Price’s first WCoH mask, and here to see his second

Braden Holtby 

 Games PlayedSV%5 vs 5 SV%HD SV%Record
2015-16 Pro Season66.922.931.82141-20-10

Braden HoltbyHoltby posted strong numbers behind a powerful Washington squad last season, cooling somewhat as the regular season progressed. Though he has no previous best-on-best international experience, Holtby has thrived under NHL playoff pressure, posting a .943 save percentage over 25 games. If he’s called upon, expect him to rise to the occasion.

Check out Holtby’s WCoH mask here

 

Corey Crawford 

 Games PlayedSV%5 vs 5 SV%HD SV%Record
2015-16 Pro Season58.924.933.84535-18-4

Corey Crawford Goalie Mask Helmet

Crawford has quietly become one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, improving over time even as his Chicago Blackhawks have begun to weaken.

Like Holtby, this will be Crawford’s first major international tournament, but he too is no stranger to high-pressure situations, having backed his NHL squad to two Stanley Cups.

Few expected Crawford to see any playing time, barring (God forbid) injuries, behind the last two Vezina Trophy-winning goalies. But after a strong relief appearance in pretournament play, Crawford was a surprising pick as the backup to start the round robin. That probably says something about Crawford’s ability to thrive without the need to be busy and a balanced technical and positional approach that should leave him less prone to the ups-and-downs of a more active goaltender like Holtby, even if the latter has tightened up his play significantly in two seasons with Capitals goaltending coach Mitch Korn. It may also have something to do with Holtby’s intricate and well-documented pre-game routine, which might leave the coaches wondering what happens if he has to come off the bench a few hours after completing it instead of starting the game.

Either way, it’s not like Canada has a bad choice to make in goal. But make no mistake, no option is better than a healthy, sharp Price.

See Crawford’s WCoH mask here

~ For more about the goaltending at the World Cup of Hockey, check out the previews from the staff at InGoal Magazine, including likely starters and style of play for all eight teams. We started with the Czech Republic, then Team EuropeTeam North AmericaFinlandSweden and the USA and Russia.

About The Author

Paul Campbell

Paul Campbell is a writer at InGoal, and a former CIS goaltender and women's goaltending coach for Mount Allison University. He occassionally moonlights as a university literature instructor.

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