Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood retires after 17 seasons; Is he a Hall of Famer?

20 Comments

Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood is retiring from the NHL after a career that saw him win 401 games over 17 seasons and saw him win three Stanley Cups. Osgood’s career is a fascinating one and one that will bring about one of the most hotly contested Hall of Fame cases of the modern era.

Osgood spent the bulk of his career with the Red Wings where he saw his highest highs and his lowest lows. Perhaps his most memorable accomplishment came in 2008 where he bailed out a struggling Dominik Hasek in the Stanley Cup playoffs opening round against Nashville to put the Wings on his back and carry them to the Stanley Cup.  Osgood also helped lead the 1998 Red Wings to the Stanley Cup, but surrounding those championships were failures in Detroit that kept the Red Wings searching for another goalie.

From 1994 to 1996, the Red Wings suffered all kinds of tough playoff losses with Osgood at the helm as the starter. In 1994, Osgood’s rookie season, they were bounced out of the playoffs by the eighth seed San Jose Sharks in the first round. The following year, Detroit rolled through the playoffs and into the Stanley Cup finals where they were swept away by the uber-defensive New Jersey Devils. In 1996, it was an ignominious defeat in the Western Conference finals in six games to the Colorado Avalanche.

When the Wings went on to win the Cup in 1997 it would be Mike Vernon and not Osgood that led the way to that title. Vernon was so good in goal through the playoffs he won the Conn Smythe Trophy that year. After the 1998 Cup win, things got rough in the playoffs again for the Red Wings from 1999-2001 losing to the Avs two straight years and then in the first round to Los Angeles in 2001.

After that season, Osgood went to the Islanders where he went on to win 32 games and lead the Isles to the playoffs in 2002 and losing to the Maple Leafs in seven games in the first round. The following season saw the Isles deal him to St. Louis mid-season and led the Blues into the postseason losing to Vancouver in seven games in the opening round. The following year in 2003-2004, Osgood won 31 games in leading the Blues to the playoffs as well losing to the Sharks in the first round.

After the lockout, Osgood found his way back to Detroit where he alternated between being the starter and the backup with the Wings. While being the backup to a future Hall of Famer in an aging Dominik Hasek is one thing, playing second fiddle to Manny Legace is another. Aging and giving way to Jimmy Howard was an eventuality, but Osgood’s career is one that didn’t see him dominate as a starting goalie but ultimately sees him look in the statistic rankings as a great goalie.

source: APHe’s tenth all-time in the NHL in wins with 401, fourth all-time in playoff shutouts with 15, and eighth all-time with 74 postseason wins. They’re gaudy rankings, but is he a Hall of Famer?

Red Wings and Osgood fans will point to his long career, 401 wins, three Stanley Cups (1997, 1998, 2008), as well as winning 30+ games in a season with three different teams as to why he should go in. Those opposed to him see him as a guy who compiled wins behind great Detroit teams over his career and had to play second fiddle to some great and not-so great goalies in order to win it all.

Osgood never won an individual trophy for his play and was twice part of a Jennings Trophy-winning tandem (In 1995-1996 with Vernon and 2007-2008 with Hasek). His career numbers are solid yet not spectacular finishing his career with a 2.49 career goals against average and a .905 save percentage over his 17 seasons. Osgood played in two All-Star Games (1996,2008) and was once named to the NHL All-Star second team in 1996.

Playing in the same era with the likes of Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour, Martin Brodeur, and Dominik Hasek makes it tough to earn individual awards but Osgood found ways to get noticed, either for good or bad reasons. Is he a Hall of Famer? Let us know in our poll and in the comments.

No suspensions, just fines for Dustin Brown, Evgeni Malkin

2 Comments

At least one things seems consistent when it comes to the NHL’s fines and suspensions: Dustin Brown sure has a knack for avoiding supplemental discipline.

The hard-hitting Los Angeles Kings forward agitates and frustrates, and sometimes he hurts with polarizing hits. Yet, even with a resume full of debatable checks, Brown only has one suspension to his name.

Many expected that toll to rise to two today after an ugly looking cross-check on Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz, but that was not the case. Instead, the Department of Player Safety is only giving Brown a $10K fine.

Evgeni Malkin was also fined $5K for spearing Brown (video isn’t available at the moment, but many claim that Malkin speared Brown in the groin).

The Penguins ended up winning last night 3-1, adding to their recent upswing and extending the Kings’ losing streak to five games.

You can see the Brown incident, which drew a match penalty, in the video above this post’s headline. Brown explained his side of the story, as you can see in this post, and maybe that hearing ended up going in his favor?

“I’m going to close on him. He stumbles, toe picks. I don’t drive him into the wall or anything,” Brown said afterward via LA Kings Insider. “Also, closing on the play, at the most it’s probably a two, I think. I mean, who knows because of the protocol and all that, but it’s one of those plays where I’m going to close and he’s in an unfortunate spot.”

The bright side is that Schultz at least seems OK.

Even so, plenty of people are upset with this drawing a mere fine instead of forcing Brown to miss time, particularly in the backdrop of Andrew Cogliano seeing his ironman streak end thanks to a two-game suspension.

This isn’t just a matter of Penguins fans griping, either, as Brown tends to draw wider ire from observers in moments like these.

The Department of Player Safety is no stranger to handing out head-scratching rulings, but we’re no longer in the Brendan Shanahan days in which there would be more widespread explanations for decisions. The league seems responsive when it comes to complaints about spin-o-ramas and lengthy offside reviews, but when it comes to suspensions and fines, it seems like fans and media are still on for an uphill battle.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Ryan Ellis hasn’t missed a beat for Predators

Getty
Leave a comment

For much of this season, people have been wondering how much higher the Nashville Predators’ ceiling might be with a healthy Ryan Ellis. Of course, we’ve seen plenty of instances in which a player comes back, but isn’t quite himself for a while, especially when a knee injury is involved.

It’s early, yet through six games, it looks like Ryan Ellis is … indeed, Ryan Ellis.

Last night’s 3-2 shootout win against the Coyotes was maybe the strongest statement so far in that regard, as Ellis scored a goal and an assist, bumping his season totals up to four points in six games.

In the process, he’s impressed his teammates and coaches, as Brooks Bratten of the team website reports.

That said, the best is yet to come, if you as head coach Peter Laviolette.

“He’s catching a moving train,” Laviolette said. “I’m sure he’d tell you he feels good. Every time we talk to him he says he feels good, but I think his game will continue to get better as he plays more and gets more ice time.”

You can see that Laviolette’s confidence is increasing in Ellis being Ellis by checking his game log. In his first three games back from injury, Ellis received 18:43 or less in time on ice. In the past three games, he’s received at least 21 minutes of ice time, with last night’s 22:33 representing a season high.

So far, Ellis’ possession stats are where you’d like to see them, another heartening sign that he can help Nashville much like he did before: on both ends of the ice.

There’s still an element of being eased into the mix, mind you. Through his first six games, Ellis began 61.6 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, a huge bump from last season’s 47.7 percent and his career average of 52.1 (via Hockey Reference).

It should be fascinating to see how Ellis’ deployment tracks through this season. If Laviolette feels like he needs to be sheltered a bit all throughout 2017-18, it might not be such a bad thing, as P.K. Subban is putting up Norris-worthy all-around numbers, Mattias Ekholm is trusty in his own zone, and Roman Josi might benefit from an offensive-minded deployment himself.

Few teams enjoy the sort of luxuries the Predators enjoy on defense, at least when Ellis is available.

Even with their top line of Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, and Filip Forsberg all somewhere between banged-up and actually injured, the Predators are currently on a four-game winning streak and play five of their next six games in Nashville.

Things are looking up for this Predators team, as they’re in a strong position to take the Central Division, and just seem to get stronger as each month goes along.

If Ryan Ellis being Ryan Ellis is legit instead of being a mirage, then the rest of the NHL better beware.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Nugent-Hopkins’ injury: blessing in disguise for Oilers

Getty
3 Comments

In the short term, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins being sidelined for five-to-six weeks with cracked ribs is awful news for the Edmonton Oilers, especially since the initial outlook was more positive.

Let’s be honest, though: only the most delusional Oilers observers really give them much of hope of salvaging the 2017-18 season. They’re basically in “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” territory by just about every measure.

So, allow me to be optimistic about the bigger picture while burying the current: RNH’s injury could be a blessing in disguise, at least if the Oilers receive the bat signal about their lost season.

This would be how it could be beneficial.

The Oilers probably won’t be able to bungle an RNH trade

Look, it’s plausible that Nugent-Hopkins could be part of a trade that helps the Oilers at some point. They can’t totally disregard that notion, not when they’ve made some cap mistakes and the solid center carries a $6 million cap hit.

That said, does anyone trust GM Peter Chiarelli with an RNH trade at this point? (We might need to hide your car keys if you do.)

It almost feels like every day or so is another slap in the face for Chiarelli, as Mathew Barzal tears it up for the Islanders and Taylor Hall is enjoying an All-Star season for the Devils. RNH being out might just save the Oilers from themselves, especially if Edmonton sees front office changes this summer. Might as well hit the “pause” button on trading actual core pieces after losing that game over and over, right?

Inflate Ryan Strome?

OK, this category might give the Oilers too much credit, but maybe they’d consider it.

It seems like Ryan Strome might be the beneficiary of RNH’s lost opportunities, particularly on the power play. As a pending RFA, there’s concern that this might actually hurt Edmonton.

What if the Oilers do a “pump and dump” with Strome, instead, driving up his value and then trading him to a contender? If Strome went on a hot streak, maybe a team would want him as a rental considering his cheap $2.5 million cap hit would be even cheaper at the deadline (he’s already down to about $1M according to Cap Friendly).

Get the memo: you’re a seller

Maybe RNH’s injury stands as that final push for the Oilers to sell at the trade deadline.

Chiarelli’s track record of player for player trades is … not great. That said, he’s done OK with smaller deals, buying low on the likes of Cam Talbot.

The Strome example might be too outside of the box, but moving an affordable, productive player like Patrick Maroon is very conceivable. Mark Letestu is another expiring contract that might bring at least moderate interest from around the NHL.

***

As bad as things are for the Oilers, they don’t necessarily need to panic and blow everything up. If this eliminates the chance of RNH being moved, it might not be such a bad thing, as the franchise might as well get its ducks in a row before they make that decision.

In the meantime, they can undergo less of a rebuild and more of a spring cleaning.

With the right moves on the peripheral, they might just be glad that RNH is still around. By not dodging an injury, the Oilers may have just dodged another bullet.

After all, they keep shooting themselves in the foot.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Kings’ Dustin Brown earns hearing for boarding Justin Schultz (Video)

13 Comments

Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings will speak with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Friday following his game misconduct for boarding Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz.

The hit occurred midway through the third period of the Penguins’ 3-1 win Thursday night. Brown was handed a major for boarding and ejected from the game.

“I’m going to close on him. He stumbles, toe picks. I don’t drive him into the wall or anything,” Brown said afterward via LA Kings Insider. “Also, closing on the play, at the most it’s probably a two, I think. I mean, who knows because of the protocol and all that, but it’s one of those plays where I’m going to close and he’s in an unfortunate spot.”

Schultz did not return to the game but head coach Mike Sullivan said he was in the locker room afterward and it seemed like he was going to be fine.

Brown sees Schultz is on his knees by the boards and it isn’t like the Kings forward’s momentum takes him into the Penguins defender. He gets his hands raised as he cross-checks Schultz into the boards. As Jim Fox said during the broadcast, the DoPS wants players to avoid or minimize contact along the boards. This hit was completely avoidable.

“I fell, I’m facing the wall and then all of a sudden my face gets driven into the dasher there,” Schultz said via the Post-Gazette. “I don’t know why. There was plenty of time to not do that.”

The NHL has suspended Brown only once in his career, so he’s not considered a repeat offender here. Still, he’s going to be sitting for at least one game, possibly two, beginning Friday night in Anaheim.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.