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Up-to-the minute updates and insights from the Red Wings locker room at home and on the road. By Chuck Pleiness of The Macomb Daily.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Don't change anything in net

Doing nothing is quite often the best thing to do.
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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruce, that's a tough call. It's one of those times I'm glad I'm not the coach.

November 15, 2007 at 4:48 PM 
Blogger Alex said...

I agree with Bruce. I don't care if we have to lose a few more -- anything to get Hasek going. I want to see the Dom who gets a shut out after losing a big game again. I want to see the Dom who "closes the door" in the playoffs after letting in two goals. Letting Osgood play often, but not over half the games, is great too. It'll be important to keep him going just in case.

November 15, 2007 at 6:26 PM 
Blogger HockeyTownTodd said...

To get the best from the Dom, you have to put him right back in following a bad game..
He NEVER has 2 bad games in a row.

November 15, 2007 at 9:50 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unless, of course, it's a case of age and wear finally catching up to Hasek. He wasn't as good as his numbers indicated this past Post-Season. He didn't look good in the Conference Finals, regardless of what his stats say. He found himself on his back, with the puck sailing over his prone body, on more than one occasion. Matter of fact, I'd say Osgood has outplayed Hasek from about the mid-point of last Season. Unfortunately, this appears to be one of the rare cases where a Coach is going to go with the name on the back of the jersey, regardless. What was Holland's most recent comment on the matter of sticking with Dom regardless of performance?: "....because of who he is and what he's done." So much for "he who plays best, plays.", eh?

November 16, 2007 at 12:04 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruce: Good call! The regular season is only a 84 game exhibition season anyway. As long as you get to the playoffs and have two rested, seasoned goalies you will be better off. Hasek is (getting??) older and you never know when that old groin pull will put him on the shelf. gotta have Osgood ready to go if necessary. The platoon system will give the RW's the best chance in the long run

November 16, 2007 at 7:23 AM 

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