Author: Joe Yerdon

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 5 - Canada v United States

Smith to back up Luongo against Austria Friday

We already knew Roberto Luongo was getting the start against Austria on Friday, but we didn’t know who would be backing him up until now.

Coach Mike Babcock told reporters following Canada’s 3-1 victory against Norway that Mike Smith would back up Luongo against Austria and give him a chance to suit up in his first Olympic game.

Finding a way to get all three goalies the opportunity to play (or at least suit up) is one of Babcock’s trickier jobs. Smith is clearly the No. 3 behind Carey Price and Luongo, but being a backup means always having to be ready just in case.

Against a team like Austria, Smith is most likely there in case Luongo gets hurt. If Smith has to come into the game based on Luongo’s performance, Babcock might have bigger problems to wrangle.

Johan Hedberg signs PTO with Devils’ AHL team

Johan Hedberg

Goalie Johan Hedberg may have thought his time with the New Jersey Devils organization was at an end when the team bought him out over the summer.

Think again.

The 40-year-old Swede signed a professional try-out agreement with the AHL Albany Devils. Before you let your imagination get away with you, according to Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice, Hedberg is in Albany to help with their goaltending depth problems.

“[Keith] Kinkaid is hurt and they needed another goalie and I was around and available, so here I am,” Hedberg said.

We last saw Hedberg in New York Rangers training camp battling Martin Biron for the backup job behind Henrik Lundqvist. Biron beat him out, but retired shortly thereafter.

If you’re thinking Hedberg is being warmed up to potentially take Martin Brodeur’s spot in New Jersey should they trade him, that can’t happen since Hedberg was bought out by the Devils.

Any player bought out by a team cannot play for that team during the season following the buyout. Hedberg can play for any of the other 29 teams this season, but can’t even be traded back to New Jersey.

Varlamov starts for Russia vs. Slovenia

Semyon Varlamov

Russia had quite the debate over who to start in goal for their opening game of the Olympics and they’ve made their choice.

Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov will get the call to start against Slovenia on Thursday (7:30 a.m. ET on MSNBC). Varlamov gets the nod over Columbus Blue Jackets goalie and 2013 Vezina Trophy winner Sergei  Bobrovsky who will back him up.

Varlamov enters the Olympics with a bit more experience than Bobrovsky in international competition. The Avs starter has played in three out of four of the past World Championships and was a member of the 2010 Russian Olympic team.

Bobrovsky, on the other hand, last competed for Russia at the 2008 World Junior Championships. Both goalies are having strong seasons in the NHL and it was a virtual toss-up as to who started.

Varlamov struggled at Worlds last year, but his play this season with the Avs has shown him to be one of the better goalie in the NHL.