Ozzie back in net
He left the ice after Thursday's practice at Joe Louis Arena long before Dominik Hasek, which means one thing -- Osgood is the Detroit Red Wings' starting goalie. In hockey, the backup goalie always stays on the ice to give players who have extended practice a target in net.
Despite that, Osgood looked at the swarm of reporters and cameras that surrounded his locker and lied. Lied like a good soldier.
"I have no idea," said Osgood as to who would start in net for Friday night's Game 5 (7:30 p.m., FSN) against the Nashville Predators. "I don't know if we'll know later this afternoon or tomorrow or when."
Osgood proceeded to insert "if I play" into all his answers about tonight's game to emphasize that he officially didn't know that he was starting. All the while, Hasek's locker stall was vacant as he worked on the ice with the backups.
Osgood had known for a while that he was about to get his first start of the post-season after Hasek was in net for back-to-back losses in Nashville this week that left the opening-round series tied, 2-2.
Detroit coach Mike Babcock laughed when told that Osgood was dodging questions.
"He didn't talk to me yet about talking to you (the media), so he's a good man," said Babcock. "He knew what was going on. We just hadn't worked it all out."
Now, the Red Wings hope that Osgood will be a good playoff goalie in addition to being a good soldier.
Hasek was Detroit's No. 1 goalie throughout the season. Injuries, however, limited his work load. Hasek and Osgood both started 40 games with Jimmy Howard getting two starts.
Hasek and Osgood finished the regular season with remarkably similar statistics. Osgood played just 59 more minutes than Hasek and the two allowed the exact same number of goals. Both netminders had 27 wins. Both netminders had 13 losses. Both goalies were lifted from three of their 40 starts.
Osgood, however, was the backup and his season was considered a success. He was also the starter for the Western Conference at the all-star game after starting the season well. Although his numbers were just about the same as Osgood's, Hasek's season was considered a disappointment.
"Through the whole season, Ozzie's record and my record are winning records; It worked very well," said Hasek. "Tomorrow is an important game and Ozzie's going to be in. I don't want to look too far ahead. Now is Ozzie's time. We'll see how we play and what's going to happen."
What happened to Hasek in Wednesday's Game 4 was that he allowed three goals on 14 shots and was pulled in favor of Osgood less than halfway into the game. Hasek's playoff numbers are weak -- an .888 save percentage and a 2.91 goals-against average.
"The puck didn't hit him in Nashville," said Babcock. "The bottom line is we've done this all year long. Ozzie's been very good for us. I thought Ozzie played well. So that's what we're doing. I just told Dom to get on the ice, get some work done, get your game back. We plan on having a long run here, so be ready."
That's the same attitude with which Osgood entered the post-season as the backup.
"There's a lot of games if you go all the way," said Osgood. "There's two months of playing. I always thought somewhere along the line I'd be used if there were back-to-back games or if we play a team where there's a lot of travel. I always wanted to give him (Babcock) the option to use me if he needed."
Security isn't part of the job of NHL netminders. The next goal allowed could be the one that puts you back on the bench, watching the action.
"The greatest thing about this game is that the truth today isn't the truth tomorrow … The bottom line is Ozzie has an opportunity," said Babcock. "Just win baby."