Abel to Yzerman
by IwoCPO on 10/29/10 at 10:30 PM ET
Nothing gets the blood boiling around here like a loss. And when Chris Osgood’s involved? Holy hell. There is no middle ground and it’s best to pick a side and stick with it. It’s deep seated and it’s a subject capable of dividing the closest-knit gaggle of hockey fans on the Gore. You can throw out the third-line woes, a power play I still consider “stagnant”, a Rafalski-less defense that is worrisome at best. You can even introduce a Hall of famer into the mix and throw him right under the bus after an 8-game sample.
That, the Modano Judgment, is absolutely ludicrous. But it’s nothing compared to the venom that accompanies a discussion regarding Chris Osgood.
Here’s what I know and here’s where I stand. More often than not Chris Osgood allows 3 or more goals against. Including this regular season and dating back to last year, he’s started 26 games. Of those games, he allowed 3 or more on 15 different occasions. He lost every one of them. Every single one. This year, 24 goaltenders, all with at least five starts, allow less than three goals against. Osgood’s on track for another season greater than 3.00. Last year, 38 goalies…all with more starts than Osgood…finished the season below that mark.
It is what it is. Blame it on the team itself if you want. Bottom line is this though: when Osgood starts, the goals pour in at a greater rate than almost any goalie in hockey. And the Wings lose nearly sixty percent of the games he starts.
Those are facts. And here’s the speculation to accompany them: we’re in trouble if this back thing is serious.
Jimmy Howard did not practice due to his sore back. Howard said tests revealed no significant damage and he’s not concerned that it might be a long-term injury. Babcock believes he’ll be ready to play Wednesday in Calgary.
“Wednesday in practice, went down in the butterfly, nothing out of the ordinary and just the back locked up,’’ Howard said. “It’s happened a couple of times, once last year, but the pain wasn’t as severe as it was this time, so I just played through it. Just got to stay off it for a couple of days and I’ll be ready to go.’’
That is disturbing and I stated why above. Pin your hopes on Osgood, and we will; because we always do. But Jimmy Howard as the starter is the key to this season. 2.26 was his GAA last year, and look at it this way: it’s the TEAM’s GAA when he starts. The team just plays better, a lot better when it’s Howard. He’d better be healthy or we’re all in store for serious counseling. Soon.
Goaltending is the thing, even though we’re spending huge amounts of time angst and energy talking about a third line that some are declaring an absolute failure after less than ten games. Maybe the chemistry isn’t there, because we can be so sure about that considering they had practically zero minutes together during a largely meaningless exhibition season. Maybe Mike Modano is a defenseless diva. And what about his career attests to that? His long-time failure in the Hitchcock offensive orgasm of a system? +43, +26, +25, +23…all under Hitchcock. Yep, those numbers got worse toward the tail end in Dallas, but so did the team. Mike Modano doesn’t backcheck? Mike Modano floats? Really? Based on what? 8 games and 3 camera angles? If he doesn’t have the physical skills to stay with a first or second line center? Got it. But spare me the crap that it’s due to his approach to the game.
As always, I stick with this: Mike Babcock wanted Modano here. Ken Holland did, too. Now after 8 games, we’re questioning that because the third line isn’t clicking yet? Ok.
Modano’s not sitting Saturday and as I said earlier today? He’ll retire or get waived before he’s ever a healthy scratch for this team. It’s not the way the Wings operate, right or wrong.
And I don’t think Hudler’s sitting either. Abdelkader’s gonna be in there. We got it. But he’s a 4th liner and he should take the place of a 4th liner if he’s gonna play. That means Miller or Eaves.
That third line doesn’t just “look good on paper.” Smart hockey people, the absolute smartest actually, have said again and again that it’s gonna click. They’re not giving up on them after 8 games. But, hell. We should, eh?
If there’s a problem to fret about it’s between the pipes until Jimmah’s back and between the ears of the guy who’s replacing him. Unpopular as it may be, that’s the issue at hand.
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Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977. No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y. Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation. There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature. Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org