Don't change anything in net
Trust me. I know all about doing nothing. I consider myself an expert in the field. If you need references, my boss and my mother will be happy to provide those.
But I'm here to tell you that nothing often beats something in the doing department, especially when something can take you farther in the wrong direction. Is that clear?
Here's a timely example: The Detroit Red Wings' No. 1 goalie is playing like a No. 2 goalie while the No. 2 goalie is playing like a No. 1 goalie.
Chris Osgood is hot.
Osgood is second in the NHL among goalies who have played in nine games with a 1.58 goals-against average. He has a sparkling .931 save percentage and he wins, posting an 8-1-0 record.
More than the numbers, you can see the confidence Osgood has when he plays. He's quick, he's challenging and even when he makes a mistake he's still in good enough position for the puck to hit him.
Dominik Hasek is not hot. He's 21st in the league with a 2.76 goals-against average. Worse than that, Hasek's .869 save percentage is by far the lowest in the league among goalies with at least seven games played. He's 5-3-1 on a team that has lost just one time without him in net.
Hasek described his play after Tuesday's loss in St. Louis as "not being able to get in the game." He doesn't see action for minutes, then lets in a quickie … which is another way to say that he's playing like a No. 2 goalie. Osgood plays behind the same tight defense and manages just fine.
Tuesday's game was a good example of the difference between the two netminders. Hasek was pulled after allowing four goals, including two off big rebounds. Osgood came in and looked a lot sharper.
All of that said, it would seem obvious that the correct thing to do would be to make a change, to play Osgood more often and give the Red Wings a better chance to win.
But not doing anything right now would be better than doing something like making a change.
Osgood and Hasek have been splitting the workload. Keep doing that, even giving Dominik a few more starts than his partner.
The Red Wings are going to make the playoffs. You don't need to ride a hot goalie to get there.
And when they get to the playoffs, no matter what happens performance-wise in the regular season, Dominik Hasek will be the starting goalie.
So between now and then, the Red Wings have two missions to accomplish with their goaltending.
First, get Hasek back into top form. That will only happen if you keep throwing Hasek in the net even after games in which he allows four goals in one period. He has five months to work it all out.
Second, keep Osgood playing at such a high level. I said Hasek would start the playoffs. You never know what will happen in the playoffs and having Osgood is an advantage that Detroit has over most teams. But there are five months between now and the playoffs and it's going to be very difficult for Osgood to keep performing as he has been. There's not need to overwork Osgood, just keep him fresh.
In other words, the worst thing in the world for the Red Wings' goalies would be to treat Osgood as the dominant netminder right now.
Coach Mike Babcock has often said that Detroit doesn't need Hasek to set any record for games played. The Red Wings just need him to win 16 games in the spring. And they have 64 games to get Hasek playoff ready.