Paterson the steadiest of Canada’s netminders
But a starter is far from being named yet
Word’s spreading fast, though.
“I love his compete,” said the goaltending coach on the day Team Canada trimmed its roster to the required 23 players. “I love that he’s been a winner growing up. He took over a Saginaw team last year that sold off all their veteran players to go with youth. They were well out of a playoff spot and the next thing you know they’re in the playoffs, because of him, and then they knock off a heavily-favoured team, because of him.
“He’s got a great pedigree. And as he showed this week, he’s not intimidated by anybody. He came in with an attitude that he belonged. That sure came out in the way he competed.”
Right now, the most important position as well as the most critiqued appears to a three-way dead heat between Paterson, pre-camp favourite Malcolm Subban and Jordan Binnington.
Of the three, Subban, the most hyped, had arguably the weakest week here; Paterson, the strongest.
“Yeah, I’d say it’s wide open,” reckoned Paterson, a third-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings. “Coming into camp Malcolm looked like the No. 1. But the three guys here are pretty equal. I’m hoping to have a good start overseas and see what happens from there.
“I guess I had a pretty solid camp. I think that was enough to put me on the team. I was fortunate that pucks were hitting me this week.
“This is just the first chapter in the book. We don’t know how it’s going to end.”
The big surprise of Cutdown Thursday was the release of Edmonton Oil Kings’ star Laurent Brossoit, a Calgary Flames’ pick. Subban’s season and status, though, offset his erratic play here to land him one of the spots.
“As we said, this week was not the final deciding moment,” re-emphasized head coach Steve Spott. “For me it was the final piece of the puzzle. But it wasn’t a final decision. Saying that, we’d probably still have four goaltenders here.”
Tugnutt insists he’d be comfortable with any of the surviving group to open against the Germans on Boxing Day.
“The three of them are as good as any goaltenders out there. And that’s nice to be able to say, with all the backlash we’ve had of late over our goaltenders. The guys that are playing in these tournaments are first-round NHL picks and people are still dissatisfied with them.
“I’ve been happy with all four guys we had here. There’s a lot that goes into it: The season they had, the history they have, shootouts ... so many things we take into consideration. We believe these are the three guys that best give us a chance to win. Taking nothing away from Laurent Brossoit, who I think is an outstanding young goaltender. He’s become a good friend of mine because I’ve got to see him more during the year and keep in contact.
“It (cutting him) was very difficult to do. But I know his future’s bright, as are the futures of the guys we’re taking to this tournament.”
The next order of netminding business is not to name a No. 1 but to delegate a third-stringer, to allow the top two to mentally begin preparing for a short, expectation-packed two weeks in Russia.
“Ultimately,” explained Spott, “we do have to name a guy that’s going to be a healthy scratch to start the torumament. We had that conversation two days ago with every goaltender that’s here. Whoever that guy is, he has to be ready in case we have a situation where somebody’s hurt or we don’t like something we’re seeing. He’s got to be ready to go.
“We haven’t made that decision yet. I wanted tonight to be special for the guys. I wanted all three of the goaltenders who are here today to feel good about themselves. But obviously we are going to have that conversation. When it’ll be, I can’t say for sure. But it’s coming, sooner than later. Because it’s also not fair to the two other guys. They need to be prepared for what they have to do, as well.”
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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