Posted on: February 20, 2012 12:39 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 12:53 pm
By: Adam Gretz
For much of the season the Red Wings backup goalie position appeared to be a major area of weakness, as veteran Ty Conklin struggled when given starts in place of Jimmy Howard, resulting in Howard having to carry almost all of the load in net.
With Howard sidelined due to injury in recent weeks, the Red Wings were forced to bring up Joey MacDonald to fill out the roster, and when given an opporutnity to play, he did everything he could on the ice to convince Detroit management to keep him around when Howard returned. And that's exactly what's going to happen as the Red Wings placed Conklin on waivers on Monday afternoon, which means MacDonald will be sticking around as Howard's new backup.
The 32-year-old veteran, who has played for four teams in his NHL career, has appeared in eight games for the Red Wings this season and allowed just 13 goals on 196 shots for a .934 save percentage. He's been the man between the pipes in each of Detroit's past seven games, six of which they've won, with all of them coming on home ice to extend their NHL record home winning streak to 23 games (and still counting).
Conklin was just never able to find any sort of consistency for Detroit this season and was having one of the worst years of his career, posting a .878 save percentage in his 11 appearances. His last appearance for the Red Wings came on Feb. 4 against the Edmonton Oilers when he was lifted after giving up three goals on nine shots in the first period of what would be a 5-4 shootout loss.
MacDonald came into finish the game, his first appearance with the Red Wings this season. He's played every minute since.
Photo: Getty Images
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 19, 2012 4:38 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 8:48 pm
But even I'll concede now you can forget that. I said if the Wings continued to push out the streak it becomes a non-issue and you are just left in too much awe of what Detroit has done. They've done exactly that.
After failing in their last five regular-season games against the San Jose Sharks, the Wings instead finished off a six-game homestand with another win, a hard-fought 3-2 victory at the Joe. For those counting at home, and I'm sure that's most all of you, that's 23 consecutive home wins, three more than the previous record.
It all underscores a bigger point. Sure, the NHL record is great and all, but that's nothing more than a nice stat to go in the history books. Otherwise it means nothing. However it will mean something if the Red Wings earn the Presidents' Trophy, or at least the top seed in the Western Conference.
You look hard to find holes on this team. At one point you might have said it was the backup goaltending, then Jimmy Howard got hurt, Joey MacDonald was called up and he has proven he is capable of replacing Ty Conklin. More than capable, in fact.
Before the season the hole was glaring on the defense. That's why they brought in some players to help in that regard, although none seemed to be all that significant at the time, at least to me. Oops.
While one of those additions, Mike Commodore, has been sparingly used, you can't say the same for Ian White. Despite pretty solid career numbers, I wasn't too crazy about a guy who played on three different teams last season (Calgary, Carolina and San Jose). Apparently that was a silly worry.
He has been as solid a plug into their blueline group as anybody out there. He chews up more than 23 minutes per game, he contributes some offensively and is on pace to smash his career best plus/minus mark (currently he is plus-29). I know, I know, plus/minus doesn't mean much, but you'd rather have a player who is that far above zero than below it, wouldn't you?
Moreover, they have scoring depth. Who'd a thunk that Drew Miller -- no longer just the brother of Sabres goalie Ryan Miller -- would be on his way to 15 or so goals? He is one of the 10 Red Wings players who are in double digits in goals this season. That means there is little reprieve at any point in a game against the Wings.
Obviously you're a good team when you win 23 in a row at home. Clearly no slouch is going to get that done. But the biggest thing about this home streak for me is that it will contribute to them playing a lot more at home. Ironic, I know. But what really matters will be the home games beyond the guaranteed 41.
This week the Flyers made not one but two trades to get help on the defensive corps. While the help was definitely needed, not a lot is going to get better if the goaltending duo doesn't improve.
A sight that has become all too familiar this season, Ilya Bryzgalov was yanked mid-game after Matt Cooke scored the all-too rare 3-on-5 goal. Sergei Bobrovsky came in and din't perform any better. Eventually it ended in a 6-4 loss for the Flyers to the intrastate rival Penguins.
But evidenced by the downpour of boos from the Wells Fargo Center faithful, this has been a season-long issue for Philadelphia. Heck, it's been a lot longer than this season, but it was supposed to be resolved when they brought in Bryzgalov.
His save percentage has been floating around .900 all season. Right now it's sitting square on that mark, the lowest of his career. His goals against average is up to 2.79. His only worse season was in 2008-09 when he gave up 2.98 per game with the Coyotes.
Needless to say this isn't what the Flyers invested so much into him for. You have to think that with the success the team has had despite the goaltending woes, if either one of the goalies could get it going and start playing up to an acceptable level at minimum, they could make some serious noise in the playoffs.
You just wonder if that's possible at this point, if it's in either goalie with the current situation, from the defense in front of them to the coaching. It's a conversation that continues to linger around the Flyers.
Just check out what the Flyers had to say, including Bryzgalov after Saturday's loss.
Hockey Day in America
So among all the American players playing on Sunday, who'd a thunk that Paul Gaustad would be the first to score on Sunday's Hockey Day in America?
Assuming you don't count Canadian-born Jason Pominville even though he does play for the American natonal team as a dual-citizen, it was his Sabres teammate that scored the first goal by an American. He barely beat Drew Miller in Detroit for that honor.
It was part of a rare breakout for the Sabres. It's been a big struggle for them this season in Buffalo, but they brought out the scoring sticks and pounded the Penguins 6-2. In the grand scheme of things it doesn't do much for Buffalo who is too far out of the playoff picture, but it was perhaps a nice audition for Gaustad in this month of the trade deadline.
He's not going to be as sought after as a lot of the other players, but some team seeking grit and toughness with a side of skill, Gaustad could fit somewhere. Just go back and watch his work on Evgeni Malkin on Sunday to get a sense of that.
Unlucky break of the weekend
As is the case with every Blues game, it was a low-scoring affair that turned with one bad break. This one going against the Blues.
The game-winning goal for the Blackhawks technically went to Dave Bolland, but if they could, it should have gone to the Blues' David Backes, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The centering pass shot off of Backes and he couldn't stop the puck from going in the net in time. The 'Hawks eventually potted an empty-netter for their third straight win after the nine-game skid.
This year's NHLPA players poll voted the Vancouver Canucks as the league's most overrated team. Don't think I'd agree at all in calling them overrated. They were one game from winning the Cup last season and as we all know, only one team can win the Cup each season. I mean the Canucks have won the games to put them in the positions they've been in each postseason, it's not like it's a fabrication, they earned those points.
In fact, I'd say that this team doesn't get enough credit, at least in the States. They seem to be in the news a bit, but not often for their play. Yet all they do is win as DJ Khaled so eloquently said. This is the team that could take away from that Red Wings home-ice advantage in the West this postseason.
That's because they extended their points streak to 12 games after beating down the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-2 on Saturday in Vancouver. They are 9-0-3 in that time. They became the second team behind the Wings to reach the 80-point plateau.
Perhaps that overrated label has come from the fact that we expect this now. It might also explain why they are winning so quietly. Or maybe it has been the large amount of overtime and shootout wins, especially lately. But no matter the reason, people should probably pay attention.
Just can't Capitalize
Every time you think the Washington Capitals are going to get it going after a big and impressive win, they fall flat. It happened again this weekend.
They took two points from the division-leading Panthers on Friday night in a dominating effort, outshooting Florida by a wide margin. So how'd they follow that up? By looking like the Caps we've seen for the most of Dale Hunter's tenure ... being outshot and outchanced for the majority of the game and losing a low-scoring affair to the Lightning 2-1.
It seems every step they take forward they take one step back. It's why the Panthers are still sitting in first place in the Southeast with just 65 points. That's the seventh most in the Eastern Conference yet best in the division.
At some point if the Caps are going to make the playoffs they need to start stringing together a couple of these wins in a row instead of missing these chances.
Quote of the weekend
“I haven’t been on a vacation for 15 days,” Boudreau said. ”This is ridiculous. The East has no idea how lucky they are. And I think every team in the West should start with 10 points before the season starts.
“Eight games and 15 days. And I’m sure Pittsburgh goes through it, too. But when you have a four-game road trip in seven days, you’re coming home exhausted. We’re at seven days right now and this is just the halfway point in our trip.
“For a guy that’s played in the East or coach in the East as well, I don’t know how they do it,” he said. ”I really don’t. It’s quite a testament to every team in the West’s character for not griping as much as I’m doing right now about it.
“You don’t even know what hotel room you’re getting into. You forget the hotel rooms and everything during the course of the day on this trip. It’s pretty Wild. But it is what it is. You can’t use it as an excuse and you’ve got to keep going.”
-- Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on the travelling for his Anaheim team. It was technically said on Thursday, but hey, it's worth pointing out, particularly as the Ducks went from New Jersey on Thursday to Carolina on Friday and Florida on Sunday evening.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Brian Stubits, Bruce Boudreau, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Dave Bolland, David Backes, Detroit Red Wings, Drew Miller, Evgeni Malkin, Florida Panthers, Ian White, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jimmy Howard, Joey MacDonald, Matt Cooke, Mike Commodore, Paul Gaustad, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Miller, San Jose Sharks, Sergei Bobrovsky, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ty Conklin, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, Weekend Wrap
Posted on: February 3, 2012 10:27 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 2:10 pm
The good news is that right now the team is only committing to Howard missing the next two games. At that point he will be re-evaluated.
When the news of an injury first started leaking out, it was a cause of a bit of concern for the Wings. Howard plays almost every night, evidenced by the fact that he's giving a serious run toward the 50-win mark this season. If Howard were going to miss a couple weeks or more, the Wings' spot atop the West might not have been something they could hold.
“The good news is it's his stick hand and it's the tip of the finger,'' general manager Ken Holland told MLive.com. “We won't have to wait until it's totally healed for him to play. He just needs a little time. He wants to stay with the team. He feels he won't be out too long.
“Jimmy will stay with us [on the trip]. When we get back to Detroit on Tuesday he'll see a doctor and we'll get a little better read on when he can play.
“Does he need a week? I don't know. We want to give him a little bit of time.''
Howard has played in 44 of Detroit's 52 games thus far this season, winning 32 of them. He also has a goals against average of 2.03 and a save percentage at .924. He's been nothing short of excellent for Detroit.
Conklin has a .886 save percentage and 3.20 GAA in his limited action this season, so the drop is more like a black diamond than a bunny slope.
Posted on: September 28, 2011 1:48 pm
Edited on: September 28, 2011 4:15 pm
Enjoy this while you can, there's no telling what the Central will look like next season.
One of the premier rivalries in the sport is the Blackhawks vs. the Red Wings. The only two Original Six teams in the West, they have long been fierce combatants. In recent years the Blackhawks have awoken from the doldrums, making this a great series once again.
But this could be it, especially if Detroit has its way. Realignment is coming to the NHL, that much is guaranteed after Atlanta moved to Winnipeg. The Red Wings organization has made it no secret it wants to move East, rivalry with Chicago be damned. Columbus and Nashville would both welcome a move East as well. Something's gotta give, and it will be the Central Division.
It's too bad. Because this year the division is set up to be about more than just these two powers.
Nashville is always sneaky good. People seem to sleep on the Predators every season, but you know they will be there. They are looking to build off the first postseason series win in franchise history with their three Stars in contract seasons. St. Louis seems to think its Blues are ready to make a leap, so long as they can stay healthy. That was a challenge last season. And Columbus? Well there is at least optimism for the first time in a while and some buzz around the team after the addition of Jeff Carter and James Wisniewski to join Rick Nash.
But as many strides as those teams have and are taking, in the end it will likely still be about the two powerhouses. That's because the Blackhawks are back. They suffered a little last year after winning the Stanley Cup as they had to shed a lot of salary. That meant jettisoning a good chunk of the team that won the Cup. But the core remained together and the team found its groove in the end, pushing the Canucks to the brink in the first round. But after an offseason of reinforcing the roster, Chicago figures to be in the thick until the end.
And Detroit? The Red Wings are ... well they're just the Wings. It's hard to imagine them not being good. Although this year they don't seem to be as loaded as usual, those are some pretty lofty standards. They will still be a threat not only for the division title but in the Western Conference, they can flat out score. That much we know.
So if this is it as division rivals, it should be fun.
Central Division (in predicted order of finish)
Chicago Blackhawks: Ah, it's nice to be out of salary cap hell, isn't it Chicago? After having to do major salary shedding, the Blackhawks still come out with a cast of characters that includes the names Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and newcomer Andrew Brunette. Throw in Dan Carcillo and Jamal Mayers to give the team some nastiness power and the forwards are well-rounded.
On defense they will miss Brian Campbell, just not his salary. Sure, he is overpaid, but that doesn't mean he didn't bring anything to the table for the 'Hawks. But the defensive corps is still solid, led by Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson. Expectations are very high in Chicago once again.
Strenghts: It's tough to find a better pair of linemates than Toews and Kane. They are both still stepping into their primes, so they have a lot more to show. Those two are also part of the reason why the power play should once again be successful. Last season the unit ranked fourth in the NHL with the man up, led by Sharp's 12 goals on the power play.
Weaknesses: Depth at center is a major concern at this point. The team has been experimenting during camp with Patrick Kane, of all players, manning the center position. Maybe it's an indictment on the centers on the roster. Perhaps it's an indication of Patrick Sharp's health (or lack thereof). Whatever the reason, it's slightly concerning.
I would also be a little worried about the backup goaltender situation behind Corey Crawford. Alexander Salak is going to have the job and he might be more than adequate in the role, we just don't know much about him at the NHL level where he has little experience.
Detroit Red Wings: The Wings are remarkably consistent as they have made the playoffs in each of the past 20 seasons. They also stay consistent in their roster, retaining a lot of their players over time. Case in point, this year's forward group. The Wings will trot out mostly all the same forwards as a year ago for when they finished second in the NHL in scoring.
But the defensive corps received quite a shakeup after last season's 2.89 goals against average, the retirement of Brian Rafalski and loss of Ruslan Salei.
In net they have Jimmy Howard with Ty Conklin backing him up. You have to wonder how much confidence Ken Holland and Mike Babcock have in their starter Howard, though, after the team had a failed pursuit of Tomas Vokoun.
Strengths: As mentioned, the Red Wings can score, almost all of them. Last season there were 13 players that recorded double digits in goals scored, led by Johan Franzen's 28. There is certainly loads of experience in Detroit, too. These guys aren't in their first rodeos. That especially includes defensive stalwart Nicklas Lidstrom, who put of retirement for another year on the ice.
Having the leadership that players like Lidstrom can provide certainly doesn't hurt. Also, you might have heard this Babcock fellow on their bench isn't so bad.
Weaknesses: Defense, defense, defense. That is the major concern/question mark here. They revamped the D, bringing in Mike Commodore and Ian White through free agency. Young defenseman Jonathan Ericsson received a pretty lucrative new deal, so he will be expected to improve.
In the defensive vein, the goaltending will also need to get better. Of course, that goes hand in hand with the defense, but Howard has room to improve. Playing for the Wings, his record was solid -- a nice 37-17-5 mark -- but the goals against average of 2.79 (36th out of 47 eligible goalies) and save percentage of .908 (33rd best) aren't worth writing home about.
Nashville Predators: Hope is high in Smashville coming off the best showing in franchise history, making it to conference semifinals. The Predators have more or less become the NHL's version of a Moneyball team, continuing to cultivate home-grown talent and win on the cheap.
The team is led by the high-profile trio of goalie Pekka Rinne (Vezina finalist) and defensemen Shea Weber (Norris finalist) and Ryan Suter, who are all going into contract seasons. It will be interesting to see how that plays out for each of them. For some players, it's a major distraction, for others it brings out the best playing for a new deal.
If there's anything we've learned about the Predators in recent years it's not to count them out, at least as long as Barry Trotz is on the bench. Maybe this will be the year he finally wins the Jack Adams as the best coach?
Strengths: The Preds have one of the best defenses in all of hockey. That's due to a multitude of reasons stretching from Trotz's system and philosophy to the outstanding personnel on the blue line -- which might get stronger with the addition of heralded prospect Ryan Ellis -- and the elite goaltending of Rinne. All in all, it led to the team posting the third-lowest GAA a season ago.
The farm system is also a strength, it usually is for Nashville. In addition to Ellis, they have forward Craig Smith, who drew rave reviews by scoring six goals in two games in the team's rookie tournament games.
Weaknesses: You would love to have somebody who is the clear-cut scorer on the team. Unfortunately, the Preds just don't score a lot, period, forget about one player. Only two players (Sergei Kostitsyn and Patric Hornqvist) topped the 20-goal mark with Kostitsyn pacing the team with 23. Perhaps a healthy Mike Fisher can help with that, at least that's the hope.
As you'd expect with low offensive numbers, the power play placed in the bottom five of the entire league a season ago. The leading power-play scorer was Martin Erat last season with seven.
St. Louis Blues: After coming out of the gate firing 9-1-2 last season, the Blues slowed down as the season wore along, eventually missing the playoffs by 10 points partly because the team dealt with a rash of injuries. Despite that finish, there is positive momentum going in St. Louis and the ownership sees it. That's why they left the young core of the team pretty much untouched this offseason, just electing to bring in a couple of savvy veterans in Jamie Langenbrunner and Jason Arnott to make an impact.
You can see the potential here, especially with another year under their belts. It will be interesting to see how they fare over a full season with Chris Stewert, who they acquired midseason from Colorado last year. After getting the forward, the Blues' offense saw a big uptick in scoring, eventually finishing 10th in the league.
Defensively they came in just below the median at 18th in the league. The Blues should be in the playoff picture all season long.
Strengths: There is a good amount of individual talent here, starting with Stewart and new captain David Backes. In all, they had six players last season score 20 goals or more and one of them, Andy McDonald, reached that plateau in just 58 games. With the abundance of talented and skilled skaters this is a team with plenty of speed up and down the lineup.
Weaknesses: We weren't entirely sure where to put goaltending in this equation since Jaroslav Halak had some struggles in his first season as a No. 1 goaltender. However he showed what he's capable of when he was with the Canadiens. But based on his just average numbers of a season ago and the unsure situation behind him (Ben Bishop vs. Brian Elliott), we'll put this as our best guess.
Another area where the Blues are lacking is in the physicality department. You wonder where exactly the toughness will come from.
Columbus Blue Jackets: What is that coming from Columbus? Is that hope? Why yes, I think it is. GM Scott Howson was active this summer by bringing in Wisniewski and Carter along with Vinny Prospal and Radek Martinek on the blue line. In addition to signing new players, Howson was also busy in signing his current players to long-term deals, specifically R.J. Umberger and Fedor Tyutin.
Yes, the Jackets are spending money, that's not the problem. What is is the matter of how bang for the buck they are getting. To put it in perspective, the Jackets currently have a higher payroll than the Boston Bruins. The hope is that it translates into success, and a few more fans at the turnstiles as Columbus was 27th in the league in attendance last season.
Strenghts: They have struggled to score recently, but that should be done with, or at least minimized. They have a true No. 1 center now in Carter, which should only further help Nash show he is one of the best players people don't talk about in the NHL. The power play, perhaps Columbus' biggest bug-a-boo in recent seasons, should be significantly better now that they have a quarterback for the unit in Wisniewski (when he's back from suspension) and two very capable scorers up front. It had to get better from last year's 29th-ranked unit.
Weaknesses: Did somebody say goaltending? This is one area where the Blue Jackets didn't do a whole lot of upgrading. Instead, they elected to give the starting reins back to Steve Mason and signing the inexperienced Mark Dekanich to be his backup. Since winning the Calder as the league's top rookie, Mason has struggled. Last season he had a 3.01 goals against average and .901 save percentage. That's a big reason why the Jackets were 26th in scoring in the league.
And while Wisniewski helps, there still isn't much scoring threat from the blue line. Tyutin led Columbus in scoring among defensemen with just 27 points.
Photo: Getty Images
Tags: 2011-12 Season Preview, Alex Pietrangelo, Alexander Salak, Andrew Brunette, Andy McDonald, Barry Trotz, Ben Bishop, Brent Seabrook, Brian Elliott, Brian Rafalski, Brian Stubits, Central Division, Central Division Preview, Chicago Blackhawks, Chris Stewart, Columbus Blue Jackets, Corey Crawford, Dan Carcillo, David Backes, Detroit Red Wings, Duncan Keith, Fedor Tyutin, Fedor Tyutin, Ian White, Jamal Mayers, James Wisniewski, Jamie Langenbrunner, Jaroslav Halak, Jason Arnott, Jeff Carter, Jimmy Howard, Johan Franzen, Jonathan Ericsson, Jonathan Toews, Ken Holland, Kevin Shattenkirk, Kyle WIlson, Marian Hossa, Mark Dekanich, Martin Erat, Mike Babcock, Mike Commodore, Mike Fisher, Nashville Predators, Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patric Hornqvist, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Pekka Rinne, Realignment, Rick Nash, Ryan Ellis, Ryan Suter, Scott Howson, Sean O'Donnell, Sergei Kostitsyn, Shea Weber, St. Louis Blues, Steve Mason, Steve Montador, Ty Conklin
Posted on: July 20, 2011 10:20 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 10:26 am
That sure didn't take the Red Wings long.
A day after announcing Chris Osgood's retirement, Detroit GM Ken Holland wasted no time in turning his attention to Plan B for a backup goaltender, targeting former Wing Ty Conklin. Mission accomplished.
The team announced it has reached an agreement with the goaltender on a one-year contract to backup Jimmy Howard.
You have to give Holland this: He's good to the guys who have been good to him. So instead of trying for some of the other free agents available such as Ray Emery, he goes with the familiar and somebody he has seen before. Granted, Conklin's time with the Wings was brief, but it was enough to make an impression on Holland, it would appear.
Conklin returns to Detroit after spending the last two seasons in St. Louis. In two years he had an 18-18-6 mark but saw his numbers drop to .881 save percentage and 3.22 GAA this past season. He played in 40 games for Detroit in 2008-09 with a record of 25-11-2.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: July 18, 2011 5:02 pm
Edited on: July 19, 2011 2:59 pm
Chris Osgood ended the speculation, and his career, on Tuesday when he announced his retirement instead of his return to the Red Wings for another season.
"After a lot of thought I have decided to retire," Osgood announced. "I thought it was the best decision to make for the organization and myself. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. I thought it would've been easier."
Well he will return to the Red Wings in one sense. The team announced he will stick around as a goalie consultant.
Red Wings GM Ken Holland had said he was interested in talking to Osgood about returning for another year to back up starting goaltender Jimmy Howard. Clearly that won't be happening now. Instead, Holland said he will sign another goaltender by week's end (Ty Conklin, come on down!)
Osgood finished out his career where it began, in Hockeytown. He spent 14 of his 17 NHL seasons playing for the Wings, winning three Stanley Cups in that time. He ends up fourth all-time with 15 postseason shutouts, eighth all-time with 74 playoff wins and 10th all-time with 401 regular-season wins.
So is he Hall of Fame bound? Holland thinks so.
"In my opinion, it's a Hall of Fame career."
Osgood, meanwhile, will keep his fingers crossed.
"It means the world to me to get into the Hall of Fame. It means a lot and hopefully one day it happens."
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: July 12, 2011 11:42 am
Edited on: July 12, 2011 2:29 pm
By Brian Stubits
BEER LEAGUE: The NHL received some great news early on Tuesday when word came down that the league's sponsorship deal with Molson Coors to make it the official beer of the NHL for a reported $375 million would stand. The contention regarded Labatt's relationship with the NHL, with Labatt's saying it already had the rights to the Canadian teams. In the end, it's a huge win for the league, which had a lot of money to be won in the deal.
UP TO THE TASK: Will there be a more scrutinized goaltender next season than Ilya Bryzgalov? The Flyers reconstructed their roster partly to get Bryzgalov on the roster and minding the net so the pressure will be heavy in that regard. Plus, it's Philadelphia and the city hasn't had the Stanley Cup since 1975. The pressure can be a burden. But Bryzgalov is ready to handle the heat. "I want to be the guy who can carry this team," Bryzgalov said yesterday in a conference call. The spotlight's on.
WINGING IT: Yesterday, colleague Adam Gretz told you about the very limited options the Red Wings have in net to back up Jimmy Howard. Detroit GM Ken Holland is working through the issue, too, signing Joey MacDonald yesterday to a two-way deal and now stating his desire to get in touch with Chris Osgood about another season in Hockeytown. If it's not Osgood, Holland also would be interested in talking to former Wing Ty Conklin.
HOWDY SCOTT: With every passing day, fans get more and more access to the inner workings of the sports world. The latest is the outreach from Columbus Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson, who recently joined Twitter (@GMScottHowson) and started blogging -- joining Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis in that department. Howson is surprisingly open in things he posts, not being as secretive as one might expect. In his most recent blog entry, he recounts the past few weeks of numerous transactions both for the Jackets and the NHL as a whole.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 3:56 pm
By Adam Gretz
The Red Wings went into the workday Monday with only one goaltender under contract for the upcoming season -- returning starter Jimmy Howard, who is signed through next year at a cap hit of $2.25 million. By Monday afternoon the club had reached a two-year, two-way contract with backup Joey MacDonald, with the possibility remaining that veteran Chris Osgood could be returning to the mix as well.
MacDonald's deal will pay him an average annual salary of $550,000 if he plays in the NHL, and $105,000 if he plays in the minor leagues, according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. General manager Ken Holland said, via St. James, that MacDonald is likely to open the season as the Red Wings' No. 3 goalie and that the team is still looking to add another veteran to backup Howard.
Speculation has naturally turned to Osgood, a 17-year veteran who has had two different stints wearing the winged wheel, in large part because other veteran free agents have already landed in other spots, including Tomas Vokoun in Washington and Jose Theodore in Florida. Other than Osgood, the remaining unrestricted free agent options include Pascal Leclaire, Ty Conklin (who has spent time with the Red Wings in the past and has been mentioned as a possibility this offseason), Patrick Lalime, Marty Turco and Ray Emery. In all honesty, that's pretty interchangeable group.
Osgood, who turns 39 in November, was limited to 11 games last season because of injury and has appeared in just 34 games over the past two seasons, recording a .892 save percentage.
The potential Howard-Osgood-MacDonald trio isn't the greatest collection of goaltenders across the league, but goaltending hasn't really been the backbone of the franchise in the cap era. Instead, the Red Wings have loaded up on their forwards and defense and made smaller investments between the pipes.
Over the past three years, Detroit has been in the bottom-five in terms of the percentage of its payroll that's been invested in goalies (fifth lowest in 2008-09, third lowest in 2009-10 and fifth lowest in 2009-10) and currently has the smallest commitment for 2011-12.
Regardless of who the team signs to play behind Howard this season, its investment in goaltending isn't likely to be a significant one.