NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The official announcement won't come until the Winter Classic, but it appears Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard is headed for Sochi.
A person with knowledge of the selection process told the Free Press on Sunday that it looked good for Howard's inclusion among the three goaltenders who would be tasked with leading Team USA to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the team before the announcement.
Howard was at August's Olympic Orientation camp, where he was considered a shoo-in after a very successful 2013. His shine lessened in November, when he delivered very average goaltending. Then he suffered a sprained left knee during a practice three weeks ago, casting his selection further into the dark.
Howard is expected to be available Monday when the Wings play the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. He will start or back up Petr Mrazek.
Howard is 6-8-7 this season with a .910 save percentage and 2.65 goals-against average. However, the U.S. selection committee -- headlined by Nashville general manager David Poile -- has said all along selections will be based on a player's overall body of work, not half a season.
Howard would be the third stringer, behind Jonathan Quick of Los Angeles and Ryan Miller of Buffalo.
USA Hockey will unveil the final 25-player selections for the hockey team immediately following Wednesday's Winter Classic between the Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium.
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