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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    Scary moment: Carlo Colaiacovo hospitalized with ‘dented trachea’

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    Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.

    As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.

    Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

    Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.

    PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).

    Comeback Kings: Gaborik pulls L.A. past Kane, Blackhawks

    Jake Muzzin, Scott Darling

    Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.

    In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.

    Gaborik’s first goal:

    And here’s video of the OT-GWG:

    Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.

    With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”

    Patrick Kane’s streak hits 19 games, setting a new American record


    When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.

    With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).

    As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.

    Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.

    So, how would you protect a lead against the Stars?


    You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.

    Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.

    “Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?

    Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.

    Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.

    It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.

    Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.

    On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?

    It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?

    * – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.