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World Cup of Hockey

Team USA has depth, quality in goal

Three goalies with diverse styles provide wide range of options at World Cup

by Kevin Woodley / Correspondent

Not only does Team USA have some of the deepest goaltending options at the World Cup of Hockey 2016, it also has the most diverse range of puck-stopping styles.

From the aggressive, on-the-knees acrobatics of Jonathan Quick, to the stay-at-home steadiness of Cory Schneider, to a mixture from big Ben Bishop, no team brings a wider range of options to the crease.

Team USA coach John Tortorella named Quick the starter for the first game against Team Europe in Toronto on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2, SN, TVA Sports) after he won each of his two pretournament starts, with Bishop serving as his backup and Schneider starting as a scratch. But things can change quickly in a short-format event with a best-of-3 final, so it's worth taking a closer look at the similarities and differences of the three.

Statistically Speaking

By the numbers, Team USA's best goalie may be its third-stringer.

Not that there is a big gap, but Schneider of the New Jersey Devils has the NHL's best save percentage during the past three seasons: .924 compared with .922 for Bishop (Tampa Bay Lightning) and .917 for Quick (Los Angeles Kings). Schneider also led in quality starts, a statistic used to measure how often a goalie plays above the NHL median, according to Schneider had a quality start 69 percent of the time last season, compared with 61.7 percent for Bishop and 55.9 percent for Quick; during the past three seasons, he was at 62.7 percent to 59.3 percent for Bishop and 53.2 for Quick.

Video: FIN@USA: Quick uses pad to deny Barkov's wrister

Bishop topped the trio last season with a .926 save percentage (Schneider was .924, Quick was .918), but in the win-and-you're-in mentality of goalie evaluation, Quick comes out on top.

Quick won the Stanley Cup twice with the Kings (2012 and 2014), the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 2012, and has twice been a Vezina Trophy finalist, including last season, when he was third in voting after winning 40 games. Bishop was second in Vezina voting last season (Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals won the award) and third in 2014, helped the Lightning reach the 2015 Stanley Cup Final and has a .927 save percentage in 36 playoff games, better than Quick's .921 in 81 games.

But in the unique context of the World Cup, winning now, without the benefit of a normal preseason, matters more than the past three NHL seasons. Quick started strong in his pretournament win against Team Canada and followed that with a 3-2 win against Team Finland on Tuesday. Bishop had a .917 save percentage in two relief periods, and Schneider gave up four goals on 24 shots during two periods in a 5-2 loss to Team Canada.

Stylistically Speaking

If the similarly strong statistics among Schneider, Quick and Bishop tell us anything about goaltending, it's that there are few absolutes and no one, right way to play the position.

The three Team USA goalies couldn't be more different in several aspects of their approaches.

Video: USA@CAN: Schneider throws out blocker to deny Stamkos

Quick is known as an aggressive positional goaltender, especially against the rush, relying on powerful lateral movements and strong backdoor defensive support to make up for the extra distance his initial depth forces him to recover. He actually backed off that depth noticeably in the regular season during 2015-16 but was back to chasing the play around his crease with an .886 save percentage in a Western Conference First Round series loss to the San Jose Sharks.

Quick gets away with a tendency to play low in-tight and stay on his knees longer on sharp-angled plays in large part because his strength and tracking habits allow him to move better on his knees than some do on their skates while maintaining active hands. His early post-play habits have been costly at times from bad angles, and his usual aggressiveness was thought to be a poor fit behind Tortorella's usual preference for a collapsing style of defense that has caused problems for other aggressive goalies in the past. But the combination of Quick backing off a little and his incredible down movement hasn't made that a problem so far.

At the other end of the spectrum is Schneider, who plays a more conservative positional game with inside-out movements that keep him in the middle of the net and on angle easier. This should be a good fit behind Tortorella's preferred defensive style of end-zone play, just as Henrik Lundqvist excelled behind it with the New York Rangers and Eddie Lack had success with the Vancouver Canucks, at least when compared to more aggressive Roberto Luongo.

Bishop provides a happy medium, challenging more like Quick against rush chances and playing a little farther back in his crease like Schneider when the play is moving around his zone. If there's one thing that might cause Bishop problems behind a sometimes-cluttered crease, it's how much he relies on reading the release, with a tendency to reach with his long limbs rather than shifting into shots.

Video: CAN@USA: Quick stones Crosby's great chance

It's a style that has worked well for the acrobatic 6-foot-7 goalie so far, just as Schneider's has allowed him to have the NHL's best save percentage since 2011 and Quick's has led to two Stanley Cup championships and a strong start at the World Cup. Clearly there's more than one way to play goalie, but if Team USA needs more than one in this tournament, it will be interesting to see if style factors into the next decision.

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