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Detroit Red Wings: Should Jimmy Howard Start for the U.S. Olympic Team?

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Detroit Red Wings: Should Jimmy Howard Start for the U.S. Olympic Team?
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Jimmy Howard has a better track record than Jonathan Quick does during the past season and, therefore, …

COMMENTARY | With the recent announcement NHL players will be allowed to play at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, speculation has started as to which players will represent their respective countries.

The Detroit Red Wings will no doubt have a fair amount of Swedes in the Olympics along with Pavel Datsyuk representing Russia.

However, as Jimmy Howard has slowly supplemented himself as an elite goalie, the U.S. should use him as its starting goalie for the Olympics.

Howard is the real deal. The only reason the Red Wings got as far as they did in the playoffs was because of Howard. Not to mention, the Red Wings defense did Howard no favors during the season hanging him out to dry on a number of occasions.

I know Jonathan Quick is the favorite for the starting job, and rightly so. He won a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe Trophy last summer with the Los Angeles Kings. He had a playoff for the ages.

However, he faltered a bit in 2012-13 and wasn't as dominant as he had been during the Stanley Cup run. Howard, on the other hand, pushed the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks to Game 7 in the Western Conference semifinals, all while having a suspect defense and a lackluster offense in front of him.

Howard was forced to steal a number of games for the Red Wings during the regular season and playoffs. Detroit was ranked 19th in the league in goals scored per game, whereas Quick had some support from his offense, which was ranked 10th in goals scored per game.

If Howard falters in the Olympics, the U.S. can always start Quick. As history will tell us, changing goalies during the Olympics doesn't necessarily spell doom.

Canada did it in 2010 after Martin Brodeur struggled and was replaced by Roberto Luongo. The Canadians went on to win the gold medal.

Both Howard and Quick are extremely good goalies and both are worthy of the starting job, but Howard has a better track record during the past year and should be awarded the No. 1 goalie.

Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Red Wings for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.

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