By amuir29
November 06, 2013

Goaltender Ryan Miller of the Buffalo SabresRyan Miller has become a beacon of fine play in an otherwise dismal season for Buffalo. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

Each week, we'll rank the top contenders to man the pipes for Team USA and Team Canada in Sochi based on their play to date. (All stats current as of Wed. Nov. 6)

Team USA

1. Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres

Miller can't stop 'em all while playing behind Buffalo's nursery school defense, so forget the boxcar stats -- watch him play and you'll see that he's found his focus and is slowly closing in on his best game. He was the only reason the Sabres stayed close enough to eventually beat the Sharks on Tuesday night, facing a career-high 51 shots before stopping three more in the shootout to seal the win. It was his 45th win in the skills competition, tops in the league. Just something to keep in mind. (Last week: 3)

2. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings

Howard plays such an unsexy game that it's hard to get excited about his candidacy, but his ability to play at such a consistently high level has to be reassuring to the American brass. He was brilliant in a loss to the Jets on Monday. (Last week: 2)

3. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

Last week, I quoted a scout who suggested that Quick needed to "string a couple of good ones together" if he wanted to be taken seriously as a contender for Team USA's No. 1 job. Instead, the Kings netminder trotted out a couple of dogs, allowing seven goals on just 37 shots to the Sharks and the Predators. That's only the latest bad stretch in a season that's seen his save percentage hovering consistently under .900. He needs to find the groove real quick. (Last week: 1)

4. Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning

He's won three of his last four starts while giving up two or fewer goals in each. That's good work. Bishop remains a true dark horse, but his willingness to play for the US at the 2010 and 2013 World Championships won't be forgotten if an injury creates an opening for a No. 3. (Last week: NR)

5. Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators

The neck injury he suffered in a goalmouth collision against Dallas on Sunday is only the latest hit to his fading candidacy. His inability to stop the bleeding as the Blackhawks staged their dramatic comeback on Oct. 29 epitomized his struggles this season. (Last week: 5)

Team Canada

1. Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

The good news for Canada is that the team won't meet up with Slovakia in the preliminaries, so no worries that Price can't seem to beat Jaro Halak. He still managed to look good in that shootout loss to the Blues on Tuesday, though, making several big stops including a standout glove save on Chris Stewart. (Last week: 1)

2. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

Looks like he's finding the consistency that everyone's been waiting for. After a solid 21-save shutout of the Leafs on Saturday, he's now allowed two goals or fewer in five straight games. A traditionally slow starter, he posted his best October numbers since 2006. (Last week: 4)

3. Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes

He's reeled off four straight wins since being yanked against the Kings on Oct. 24, and has stopped 120 of the last 125 shots he's faced. His rebound control has really been sharp over this stretch. (Last week: 3)

4. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

He's been solid this season, winning seven of his 10 starts and giving up just one goal in three straight before losing to the Flames on Sunday. Not his best effort, but hardly a deal breaker. He's right in the mix. (Last week: 2)

5. Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

Wild target="_blank">Romney's-taking-Ohio (Last week: 5)

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