VANCOUVER -- The hometown goalie will get the nod in Canada's Olympic opener.
Team Canada coach Mike Babcock revealed, somewhat surprisingly and very directly, that Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo is going to start against Norway on Tuesday in Canada's first game while New Jersey's Martin Brodeur will be between the pipes against Switzerland on Thursday.
Babcock and his staff will use the results from the first two games to determine who starts against Team USA on Sunday. The third option is Marc-Andre Fleury, but it doesn't appear as though he's in the mix right now.
"This is what I thought: Lu is from here and he was going to play in one of them, and Marty has played a ton of hockey so this buys him a little time," Babcock said. "We talked about it and that's what we came up with."
Neither Brodeur nor Luongo have been especially brilliant lately.
Brodeur played in 40 straight games for New Jersey, and had started 33 in a row, before Yann Danis played against Toronto on Feb. 2. He has played in 58 games this season and has 34 wins and a 2.32 goals-against average, but he was pulled in the third period Saturday after giving up four goals on 22 shots against Carolina.
He was also yanked after 40 minutes against the Islanders on Jan. 16 (4 goals on 32 shots) and Ottawa on Jan. 26 (3 goals on 12 shots).
Luongo has also played a lot this season, but he started only five of Vancouver's seven games this month before the break and was pulled in the third period Sunday after giving up five goals on 32 shots to Minnesota en route to a 6-2 loss.
"This is what I thought: Lu is from here and he was going to play in one of them, and Marty has played a ton of hockey so this buys him a little time. We talked about it and that's what we came up with." -- Mike BabcockAnd he was pulled on Jan. 30 after giving up three first-period goals to the Maple Leafs. He has 31 wins and a 2.35 GAA.
Babcock, though, doesn't seem to care much about Brodeur and Luongo getting pulled in their final games before the break or their recent struggles.
"I have witnessed a lot of Olympic athletes this last little while that haven't been all world," Babcock said, cynically referring to some of his players in Detroit that have had less than stellar seasons. "I think their focus will be real good and I think we're really strong in net. I like our situation. I like our goaltenders. We're going to find out in the end who is the best."
Pride aside, it doesn't seem to matter to the goalies in question.
"We feel comfortable having anybody in there," Brodeur told NHL.com. "It goes with the players also. There are a lot of different players that deserve to be here because there are a lot to choose from in Canada. It's intriguing because we're three goalies that can play."
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