With Wings depth squared away, goaltending becomes the main focus

jimmyhoward1.jpgIt’s a bit of a cliché at times but it can be said that teams like the Detroit Red Wings don’t rebuild, they reload. By adding Mike Modano and Ruslan Salei, sure the Wings are a bit older (all right, they’re a lot older) but they’ve solidified the team’s depth all around. All that that does now is put the focus more squarely on Detroit’s goaltending to make sure things go right and that’s something Wings head coach Mike Babcock is well aware of as Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press finds out.

“It’ll be a big challenge for Howie this summer, fitness-wise, mentally,” coach Mike Babcock said. “You can say, ‘Hey, I made it,’ — well, all you’ve done is play one year. You’ve got to keep going.”

Osgood, on the other hand, needs to get going. He’s had two subpar seasons, appearing in just 23 games last season when he strung together a 7-9-4 record with a .888 save percentage and 3.02 goals-against average. He started only three games during the second half.

“Ozzie needs to have a bounce-back year,” Babcock said. “That’s going to be important for us.”

Osgood is in the last year of his contract, and while he’ll be 38 in November, there’s little doubt he’d like to stick around past next summer.

There’s no doubt that worries about a sophomore slump for Jimmy Howard will be in the back of the minds of many Wings fans and followers and having Chris Osgood get his act together to be a capable and counted on backup would do wonders to spell any worries for the team.

For Osgood, he was the team’s savior back in 2008 and 2009, but last year saw things go very wrong for him finishing the year with a 3.02 goals against average and a save percentage of .888 while playing in just 23 games. For coach Mike Babcock, heaping a 63 game workload upon Jimmy Howard probably wasn’t in the plans. Now, Howard is Detroit’s main man whether they expected him to be or not.

A sophomore slump by Howard could put the Red Wings in some trouble should Osgood’s play continue to be poor, but Howard also isn’t your typical rookie either given that he’s 26 years-old. Maybe just being an older rookie can help a player bypass the slumps of youth.

(Photo: Gregory Shamus – Getty Images)

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    Royal beating: Lucic, Kings crush Bruins 9-2

    As Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (37) looks on Los Angeles Kings' Milan Lucic waves to the crowd after a tribute to him was played on the screen during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
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    The Boston Bruins welcomed Milan Lucic back on Tuesday. Maybe they shouldn’t have extended such a warm welcome to the Los Angeles Kings overall, however.

    You won’t see many games as lopsided as this one, at least in 2015-16, as the Kings walloped the Bruins by a humbling score of 9-2.

    Lucic wasn’t just there, either, as he scored a goal and an assist in his quite triumphant return to Boston.

    Tuukka Rask had a short night in Boston’s net, yet it wasn’t as if Jonas Gustavsson enjoyed his time. It was a pretty sound beating by all accounts.

    This dominant win is a heck of a way for the Kings to begin an imposing seven-game road trip, which continues against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Bruins probably want to burn the tape on this one themselves, as they’re about to head on a six-game road trip.

    Video: Evander Kane believes he won his fights vs. Alex Petrovic

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    The Florida Panthers are beating up the Buffalo Sabres where it counts – on the scoreboard – but Evander Kane was happy to highlight his perceived victories in a couple bouts.

    Buffalo’s power forward fought Alex Petrovic twice on Tuesday, and Kane wasn’t shy about holding up a “2-0.”

    You can watch the second fight above, and the first one below, via Hockey Fights by way of MSG:

    This GIF might just say it all, really:

    Update: Apparently they fought again moments after this post went up.

    Probably safe to call it a rivalry between the two, right?

    The Panthers ultimately won 7-4.

    Fight video: Yes, a visor-breaking punch

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    Some hockey players resist the urge to wear a visor, at least if they’re given that choice.

    Perhaps a few will say “Hey, Nathan Beaulieu will just punch it off anyway.”

    Maybe not, but Beaulieu provided a rather unique moment in his fight with Cedric Paquette during the Montreal Canadiens – Tampa Bay Lightning game. You can watch that bout in the video above, and see a cut on the Lightning pest’s face from that blow.

    Want it in GIF form? OK then:

    Sending a message: Flames scratch Gaudreau, Monahan, Bouma

    Calgary Flames' Sean Monahan, left, celebrates his goal with teammate Johnny Gaudreau during the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes in an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016, in Calgary, Alberta. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)
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    Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau figure to be a big part of the Calgary Flames’ forward group, both in the present and the future.

    That said, it the very specific present, they’ll be watching Tuesday’s game from the press box.

    After an unsatisfactory practice amid flailing playoff hopes, Flames head coach Bob Hartley made a big statement tonight, taking Monahan, Gaudreau and Lance Bouma out of the lineup as healthy scratches against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Wow.

    It’s amusing timing, too, as the Maple Leafs will roll with a bit of a skeleton crew of their own after that splashy Dion Phaneuf trade.

    Some background

    Sportsnet’s Mark Spector was there for the practice, which was unusually short at 25 minutes.

    “He wasn’t happy with the way we were practicing,” David Jones told Spector. “It’s a little embarrassing when we’re not (making) five-foot passes.

    “I think he was pretty pissed off about the way things were looking.”

    Call it a combination of poor execution and maybe a tardy arrival … perhaps from a Super Bowl party or two?