COLUMBUS – You don’t need to remind John Tortorella of the hardest decision he needs to make for this World Cup of Hockey.
Team USA’s goaltending trio (Jonathan Quick, Ben Bishop and Cory Schneider) stacks up against any other team in the tournament. All three players are among the league’s elite and the most accomplished, but when push comes to shove, only one of them will be named starting goaltender for their country.
The process for arriving at that decision is already in motion, with now two practices under their belt and three days until the first pre-tournament game against Canada. Tortorella’s goal is to get from three contenders down to two – No. 1 and his backup – by the final exhibition game in less than two weeks.
“When we make the decision, it’s gonna suck for the other guys,” Tortorella said. “It’s not gonna be fair, but we eventually have to make a decision.”
For now, part of the plan is for the three goalies to play a period each in the pre-tournament games. Tortorella said they won’t be giving one game to each goalie.
“It’s a nice problem to have,” he said of the three goaltenders. “It’s very difficult to have a true competition, especially with how good they all are."
Other notes from today’s practice:
- Before the full team assembled in Nationwide Arena, the U.S. got some power play work in at the OhioHealth Ice Haus. Under the direction of assistant coach Phil Housley (of the Nashville Predators), there was plenty of work on puck movement and zone entries.
- Tortorella said having Housley, one of the most decorated American-born defensemen ever, in charge of the power play is a tremendous bonus for the team. He likes his vision, creativity and communication with the players in explaining concepts and philosophies.
- Patrick Kane will certainly be a focus for the opposition during the World Cup, but his utilization has been a focus for the coaches, as well. Here’s Tortorella on deploying Kane, the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner:
“I want him to be as free and creative offensively as he wants to be,” he said. “He legitimately is one of the most dangerous players in the world. What the hell am I going to do to coach that?”
Kane spent much of the first two practice sessions skating on a line with Joe Pavelski at center, but there’s a good chance he’ll have several different line mates and serve as a “rover” in many different situations.
Tomorrow’s (Wednesday) practice at Nationwide Arena is free and open to the public beginning at 11 a.m. Fans attending will enter the building through the McConnell entrance.