When it comes to Olympic-caliber goalies on the Colorado Avalanche squad, Craig Anderson might immediately come to mind. The guy is a top 10 goalie on a team ranked third in the NHL’s Western Conference, and rumors about Anderson making the U.S. Olympic team have been floating for a while now. And it turns out the Avs do claim an Olympic goalie, but it’s not Anderson.
Backup goalie Peter Budaj has been named to the Slovakian Olympic team for the second time in his career, according to The Denver Post. Budaj played for his national team at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, posting a modest 2-1 record with a 2.01 goals-against average and a .924 saves percentage.
Still, Avalanche fans can be forgiven if they’re surprised, considering Budaj’s less-than-stellar play this year has him ranked 45th among the 68 goalies listed on NHL.com. And there could be good news for Andersen yet. The Post points out that the U.S. team won’t be named until Friday, at the Winter Classic in Boston. Avs coach Joe Sacco says Anderson has done everything he should have to earn a spot on the Olympic team, but it’s far from clear that he’ll really make it.
Budaj played well in Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars, despite a strong second period in which the Stars outshot the Avs 13-6 (via The Dallas Morning News). The win keeps the Avs on top of the Northwest Division heading into tonight’s showdown with the Ottawa Senators, the sixth-ranked team in the Western Conference.
SportsUntappped.com, a betting blog, recommends putting money on the Avs for the win, despite what it calls the Avs’ tendency to play conservative hockey on the road.