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)

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: All that’s been announced about Silfverberg is that he’s under evaluation and will not return.