Prior to Wednesday night's game versus the Vancouver Canucks the Tampa Bay Lightning's Ben Bishop knew he would be starting the game one of two ways – an Olympic goaltender or not.
Unfortunately a .935 save percentage and a 1.89 goals-against average along with 21 wins, which is tied for second in the NHL, was not enough as the U.S. Olympic committee seemed to rely heavily on experience with their selections – Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings), Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) and Jimmy Howard (Detroit Red Wings).
"By looking at the numbers from this year, 'does Ben deserve numbers-wise to be on the team? For sure he does,'" head coach Jon Cooper said. "But if you look at the body of work of Jonathan Quick, Jimmy Howard and Ryan Miller you can't argue that."
Ben Bishop has posted a .935 save percentage and a 1.89 goals-against average along with 21 wins this season
Quick has not played since straining his groin on November 12, while Howard missed three weeks with a sprained MCL. Yet Quick manned the crease for the 2011-12 Stanley Cup Championship-winning Kings and was awarded the NHL's Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP that year. Howard has appeared in 42 playoff games with the Red Wings.
Ryan Miller has not put up the numbers he is capable of with the Buffalo Sabres this season, who have a league-worst 11 wins, but he helped Team USA reach a Silver Medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics and won the 2009-10 Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie.
"The one thing Bishop has done is put himself in the conversation of top American goalies," Cooper said. "You have to remember Bishop has not even played in 100 games, so he doesn't have a ton of NHL experience, but he'll represent the U.S. in the future and he's just coming into his own now. You want the kid to experience it for sure, but it's just not right now, his time will come."
ODDS 'N ENDS
- Eric Brewer and Ryan Malone returned to action at Rogers Arena Wednesday night; B.J. Crombeen and Tom Pyatt were in turn healthy scratches.
- Sami Salo (upper body) did not play Wednesday, but is expected to return at some point on their Western Canada swing.
- Jonathan Drouin along with the rest of Team Canada defeated Switzerland, 4-1, in the first round of the World Junior Championships playoffs. Canada will face Finland late Saturday in the semi-final round.