Hockey

CBC Sports - Tuesday Dec. 17, 2013 15:15 ET

Josh Harding stays in Team Canada goalie picture

Olympic hockey power rankings: Week 11

harding-josh-rankings-getty
Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild continues to play his way into the Team Canada conversation. (Scott Schneider/Getty)

In Week 11 of our Olympic hockey power rankings, CBCSports.ca senior writer Tim Wharnsby ranks 30 Canadian skaters according to their performance over the past seven days. Each week, Tim and Guillaume Lefrançois of Radio-Canada also debate one player in greater detail.

This week the discussion focuses on goalie Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild.

TW: The goalie game plan for the Canadian men’s Olympic team appeared to be Roberto Luongo, Carey Price and Mike Smith. But with Smith’s recent struggles, why not take Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild.

I’m a sucker for a good story, but even if you didn’t know that Harding has battled multiple sclerosis for the past 14 months he deserves to earn a spot as Canada’s third goalie based on his play this fall. The goalie from Regina is second in wins (17), first in G.A.A. (1.49), second in save percentage (.939) and tied for first in shutouts with three.

GL: Don’t get me wrong, Josh Harding is probably the best feel-good story the NHL has had over the last few years. How can’t you root for a guy who has battled such odds, to the point where he’s an early candidate for the Vézina, regardless of his condition?

TW: He played for the Canadian under-18 team and was the backup the silver-medal 2004 Canadian world junior team. My only concern is his lack of playoff experience as a pro. In eight-plus seasons, he has played in only 10 AHL Calder Cup post-season games and made just six appearances in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

GL: I used to think that the no. 3 job should go to Canada’s thrd best goalie. I even argued, a few weeks back, that Marc-André Fleury deserved a long hard look for the job.

However, while searching stats from previous Olympic Games, I’ve come to realize that that Canada’s third-string goalie hasn’t played a single minute in the last three tournaments (Fleury in 2010, Marty Turco in 2006 and Ed Belfour in 2002).

Knowing that, I now wonder how much stats and recent performances should count in the choice for the No. 3 job. So here’s a suggestion (and another good story): why not bring back Martin Brodeur?

If the third guy is not going to play, why not invite a goalie who has something else to bring to the table? I think simply having Brodeur in the room before an all-important match-up against, say, Russia, would be more useful than a less experienced guy, who would as overwhelmed as anyone else.

And if Canada needs the 3rd goalie, if only for one game, Brodeur could pull it off.

Forwards
1. Sidney Crosby

Key Stat: League leader has a six-game streak for 10 points
Tim says: There are many positives about the Kid's game these days.
Previous ranking: 1
  2. Ryan Getzlaf

Key stat: He is riding an 18-game point streak for 23 points
Tim says: He's been Mr. Clutch with a league-high 6 GWGs.
Previous ranking: 2
  3. Corey Perry

Key stat: Third in NHL in goals scored with 21
Tim says: There is no hotter tandem in the NHL right now than the Getzlaf-Perry connection.
Previous ranking: 3
  4. Jonathan Toews

Key stat: He has a 5-game point streak for 7 points
Tim says: He may be the best two-way forward Canada will have.
Previous ranking: 4
5. Eric Staal

Key stat: He has scored 2 goals, 5 points in last 3 games
Tim says: Staal is heating up at the right time.
Previous ranking: 8
6. Patrice Bergeron

Key stat: One of the game's best faceoff men at 59.9%
Tim says: Even though he goes up against opposition's best, he's a plus-11.
Previous ranking: 7
7. John Tavares

Key stat: Just an assist and minus-3 in Sharks' 3-game losing streak
Tim says: He's managed to play well in some tough times for Islanders.
Previous ranking: 5
8. Claude Giroux

Key stat: He has a 3-game point streak, good for 5 points
Tim says: After slow start he has moved into the top-25 of league scorers.
Previous ranking: 9
9. Logan Couture

Key stat: He has gone 7 games without a goal
Tim says: It will be interesting to see if this is a prolonged slump.
Previous ranking: 7
10. Patrick Sharp

Key stat: 4 goals, 6 points in 4 games
Tim says: Only Perry and Ovechkin has scored more goals since Oct. 28.
Previous ranking: 14
  11. Martin St. Louis

Key stat: 12 shots on goal in last 5 games
Tim says: His production has dropped since Stamkos injury.
Previous ranking: 11
  12. Tyler Seguin

Key stat: Enjoyed 2-goal, 4-point game vs. Winnipeg on Saturday
Tim says: Hard to ignore him when you see Seguin among top-10 NHL scorers.
Previous ranking: 12
13. Rick Nash

Key stat: 3 assists in 3 games
Tim says: Still trying to find game after his concussion.
Previous ranking: 10
14. Mike Richards

Key stat: He's been held pointless in last 2 games
Tim says: Even though a good checker, he needs more offensive production.
Previous ranking: 13
15. Chris Kunitz

Key stat: Leads all Canadian players with 8 power-play goals
Tim says: He has magic with Penguins linemate Crosby.
Previous ranking: 16
16. Joe Thornton

Key stat: An assist machine with 30 in 35 games
Tim says: Still needs a big finish to crack Canadian roster.
Previous ranking: 15
17. Matt Duchene

Key stat: 2-goal, 3-point game vs. Winnipeg last Thursday
Tim says: Finally broke out of a slump since oblique injury.
Previous ranking: 19
18. James Neal

Key stat: Out of action due to 5-game suspension
Tim says: Needs to be disciplined if he's going to play for Canada.
Previous ranking: 18
19. Jamie Benn

Key stat: Fired a whopping 25 shots on goal in last 5 games
Tim says: Wasn't invited to summer camp, but certainly in picture now.
Previous ranking: N/R
  20. Steven Stamkos

Key stat: Suffered a broken right tibia on Nov. 11 against Boston
Tim says: Back on skates over the weekend. Still won't likely play until early February, though.
Previous ranking: 20
Defencemen
  1. Drew Doughty

Key stat: He was a plus-6 in 4 big games last week
Tim says: He's a big reason why Kings have succeeded without injured Quick.
Previous ranking: 1
  2. Duncan Keith

Key Stat: 5 points in 4 games, but he was a minus-4 vs. Toronto last Saturday
Tim says: Still leads all Canadian defenceman with 30 points in 36 games.
Previous ranking: 2
3. Shea Weber

Key stat: Brian Campbell is only Canadian defenceman who has played more than Weber's 26:16 per game
Tim says: He may be Canada's best two-way talent.
Previous ranking: 3
4. Brent Seabrook

Key stat: He had 5 points in 4 games last week and is a plus-18, even after a minus-3 vs Toronto last Saturday
Tim says: He has picked up his offensive production lately.
Previous ranking: 8
5. P.K. Subban

Key stat: 7 shots on goal in 4 games
Tim says: He had a tough game at home vs. Los Angeles last Tuesday.
Previous ranking: 4
  6. Jay Bouwmeester

Key stat: An assist in each of his last 2 games
Tim says: He needs to get more shots on goal after only 1 in 3 games.
Previous ranking: 6
  7. Alex Pietrangelo

Key stat: 2 assists and 7 shots on goal in 3 games
Tim says:  He rebounded from a tough game against Anaheim on Dec. 7.
Previous ranking: 7
8. Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Key stat: Slipped with a minus-2 effort vs. Islanders last Tuesday
Tim says: If he's going to be a shutdown guy, he better not have any laspes like last week.
Previous ranking: 5
9. Dan Boyle

Key stat: Checked in with 5 points in 3 games last week
Tim says: His veteran presence still has him in the mix.
Previous ranking: N/R
10. Kris Letang

Key stat: 4 of 6 goals on PP, but his minus-6 is a concern
Tim says: If trust is an issue with Subban, it will be with Letang, too.
Previous ranking: 9

Knocked off the list: Milan Lucic, Jason Garrison

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