The Detroit Red Wings held a meeting on Friday night and afterward took part in what was being called a “hard skating practice” in an attempt to get it together before the playoffs, and one of the things discussed during said meeting was Chris Osgood getting the nod as numero uno in net when round one finally starts.
You knew it was coming, so don’t look so surprised.
Conklin might have better numbers this season (25-10-2 with a 2.50 GAA and .910 save percentage), but the fact of the matter is Chris Osgood (24-8-7 with a 3.17 GAA and .884 save percentage) is a tried and tested Stanley Cup winning goaltender, and that more than anything else is the most important thing in the minds of NHL coaches.
“I’m pretty sure he is going to start,” Babcock said. “The big thing is, like with our team, is when you have it going, and then you let it get away from you, sometimes it’s hard to get it back. I think Ozzie is proof of that. In saying that, he’s had some good games for us, and we believe that he can do it.”
And truth be told Osgood can do it. He proved that after falling into the number one spot after Mike Vernon left Hockeytown and once again last season after Dominik Hasek imploded. Can he do it again? That remains to be seen, but when asked point-blank about his readiness Osgood fell back on his tried and true “I feel good” retort:
“I’m just playing to get ready,” Osgood said. “I’ve just got to keep going forward. I’m just making sure I’m practicing good and doing what I need to do to be ready. I’ve felt real good the games I’ve played other than the one in Calgary. I just want to make sure I’m sharp however many games I get in the rest of the regular season.”
Time To Buckle Down
Other issues discussed during Friday’s meeting was the recent string of terrible starts and finishes that have been a staple of Red Wings games these last few weeks.
Detroit has been outscored 11-7 in their last three games, all of which came on Joe Louis Arena ice. Said captain Nicklas Lidstrom about Detroit’s recent lack of want:
“We’re trying to get away from thinking that, when we have to, we can turn it on. In the playoffs, teams are going to play so much better defensively that you can’t just turn it on when it’s needed.
“We know what we’re doing wrong, and we haven’t fixed it yet, and it’s not a major thing to fix, either. We think it’s fairly simple, and that’s why we worked a lot on defensive-zone coverage and defensive-zone play. It’s not good enough to win the way we’re playing right now.”
Added Johan Franzen:
“We haven’t been ready to put in the same effort as the other teems do. We wait until we’re down two goals before we start going. We’ve got to pick it up.”
Pick it up indeed. Detroit finds themselves at the top of the league season after season because of their offensive ability, but even a casual hockey fan can tell you that defense is what wins championships.
“We can’t score five goals at playoff time,” head coach Mike Babcock said. “Sometimes you’re going to be lucky to get two. So you have to be good in your own zone. The urgency has to set in at some point that we have to get this looked after.”
As the defending Stanley Cup champions the eyes of the entire NHL are watching Detroit’s every move, and unless they start to show improvement immediately those eyes will watch the Wings bounce right out of the first round.
No matter who they play.