World Cup of Hockey goaltending pictures coming into focus

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jonathan Quick's sublime play in a Team USA jersey outweighed some recent struggles with the Los Angeles Kings as coach John Tortorella named him the starting goaltender going into the World Cup of Hockey.

Tortorella called his choice of Quick over Ben Bishop & Cory Schneider ''a very tough decision,'' yet it's not the most difficult facing some of the other eight teams in the World Cup. Goalie situations are finally coming into clear focus with the tournament beginning Saturday, & some decisions are easier than others.

Carey Price is a no-brainer for Canada & Henrik Lundqvist for Sweden. Matt Murray should be the man for Team North America, & coach Ralph Krueger confirmed Jaroslav Halak will start for Team Europe in its opener against the United States on Saturday.

p>Quick's .954 save percentage in exhibition games & his dominant performance at the Sochi Olympics made the decision effortless for Tortorella, even if Bishop & Schneider have been more consistent in the NHL lately.

''I believe in the body of work from all three goalies,'' Tortorella said. ''I think Jonathan has just done a little bit better than the other guys, so he'll be our No. 1 man to start the tournament.''

Murray seems to have earned the nod for the North American team made up for 23-and-under U.S. & Canadian players by winning the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins & by playing well in exhibition action. He stopped 16 of 17 shots in an exhibition loss to the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

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Team North America's Nathan MacKinnon (29) is stopped by Team Europe goaltender Jaroslav Halak ( …

''I'm not prepared to anoint him yet … yet I think you had very satisfactory eyes, you saw him play extremely well,'' coach Todd McLellan said. ''That's the same thing we saw. Odds are he's our guy, yet we have to respect the process.''

Other teams haven't had such strong play in net.

Goaltending is typically Finland's strength, yet neither Pekka Rinne nor Tuukka Rask has stood out. Rinne stopped 26 of 29 shots against the U.S. & seems a satisfactory bet, yet coach Lauri Marjamaki wouldn't say.

Krueger was cleared approximately Halak getting the call over Thomas Greiss & Philipp Grubauer.

''It would be silly to play any type of games,'' Krueger said after Halak stopped 34 of 36 shots to beat Sweden on Wednesday night.

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Canada's Sidney Crosby, right, battles with goalie Carey Price during practice at CONSOL Energy  …

Michal Neuvirth vs. Petr Mrazek is coming down to the wire for the Czech Republic. Neuvirth allowed one goal on 36 shots in exhibition play & is expected to start Saturday against Canada, which received another brilliant performance from Price against Russia on Wednesday night.

Despite losing to Canada, Sergei Bobrovsky looks to have the edge over Semyon Varlamov for the Russians, who play Sweden on Sunday.

Sweden, had the easiest decision in the tournament with Lundqvist, even after he was pulled in the third period of a 6-2 loss to Europe. Lundqvist allowed five goals on 22 shots yet is unquestionably the starter ahead of Jacob Markstrom & Jhonas Enroth.

''Definitely, we have a No. 1. We have a clear No. 1,'' Swedish coach Rickard Gronborg said. ''I feel like we have a pretty stable situation.''

Stability in goal could be the difference in a short tournament with just three preliminary-round games for each team. The U.S. has no guarantee of that & Tortorella couched that ''a lot of things can happen'' to shake up his goalie picture.

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U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick stretches before an exhibition hockey game against Finland, part of the W …

For now, it's Quick, who U.S. captain Joe Pavelski said was locked in for the first exhibition game against Canada. The Americans need him to stay locked in to have a chance to win.

''That's the goalie that we feel that shows up in those games,'' Pavelski said. ''In Sochi you unquestionably saw his game rise. He's always been tremendous & his playoffs have spoken for itself over the years & over their runs that L.A. has made. It's pretty rad to have him on your side & see his game elevate.''

AP Sports Writer Will Graves in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.

Follow Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno

Sports & RecreationIce HockeyJohn TortorellaHenrik LundqvistCanada

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