Chris Osgood Is Mr. 400: Red Wings Goalie Earns Milestone in Fairytale Fashion
It might just be a common trait among all people that, when it comes to personal milestones, we prefer they come via some dramatic scenario.
Think about it.
When you were about to land your first real job, did you envision a monotone phone message indicating simply that you've been hired and that your orientation is on Monday?
No, you wanted the hiring manager to bring you into a big conference room, stand up and shake your hand vigorously, telling you, "Son, you're just who we've been looking for. Welcome aboard!"
When one thinks about their wedding, do images of a quick, no-frills ceremony down at the courthouse squeezed in between some overworked judge's lunch and afternoon hearings spring to mind?
Of course not. You want a big, catered event with all of your friends and family there ready to heap large amounts of cash and presents upon you and your new bride (or groom).
Given these tendencies, I'd bet when an NHL goalie thinks about earning his 400th career win, he's not dreaming about backstopping his team to an 8-1 blowout, having to make a whopping 17 saves along the way.
What he's likely envisioning is a situation in which he not only wins the game, but does so by being his team's best player.
Daring to dream even bigger, the win could also come via a career-best performance, perhaps, and this is really pushing it, in overtime, on the road, against a team you've hated most of your career.
Yes, a situation that fantastic is likely what goalies dream up when they're closing in on 400 wins, but the chances of that actually happening seem remote at best.
However, it's the reality Red Wings goalie Chris Osgood just lived through and one he, his family and his teammates will likely never forget for the rest of their lives.
On Monday night, Chris Osgood made 46 saves, tying his career-high in that category, and kept his team in the game long enough to set up a dramatic overtime road-victory against the Colorado Avalanche, his team's archrival for the majority of his career.
Though this game was Osgood's third shot at earning this momentous win (he's been stuck at 399 for his past two starts), at the outset, it hardly looked as if the third time was going to be a charm.
For starters, Osgood was playing behind a suddenly thin supporting cast.
Already missing Mike Modano and Pavel Datsyuk, the Red Wings were going to be playing their first game without leading goal-scorer Dan Cleary who suffered a fractured ankle just 24 hours prior to their match-up with the Avalanche. Additionally, No. 2 defenseman Brian Rafalski—suffering from a sore back—was out of the line-up, leaving Detroit's defensive corps weaker than usual.
Secondly, this game was the second of a back-to-back.
Under any circumstances, such games are tough to win. But, as the Wings are one of the NHL's oldest teams, facing a much younger and well-rested Avalanche team (Colorado had been dormant since December 23rd) meant a Detroit victory was far from likely.
Lastly, the Colorado Avalanche are the NHL's most potent offensive team.
This meant that, in addition to playing behind a weaker, more fatigued team than he would have just 24 hours prior, Chris Osgood was also going to have to get the better of an Avalanche team that was used to scoring early and often against every other team in the league.
Indeed, even as the game got underway, it looked as if Osgood was going to have to wait for yet another chance to earn his elusive 400th win as the Avs scored first less than four minutes into the first period.
The Red Wings looked about as tired and enervated as one would expect given the circumstances, however, they managed to end the first period tied with the Avs at 2-2.
Cue the dramatic symphonic score.
With his team in disarray to start the second period, Osgood faced nothing less than a shooting gallery in the second period.
Three Avalanche power-plays, dominating offensive zone play, speed, and tenacious physical play put the Red Wings well on their heels in the second.
At the end of the period, the Red Wings had managed just nine shots during the frame. A paltry sum by any measure, but absolutely minuscule compared to the 23 shots launched at Chris Osgood during the same period.
However, despite being badly outplayed and horribly out shot, the 38-year-old Osgood kept his team in a game they really had no business being in, making several spectacular saves through the first 40 minutes.
Osgood was clearly in a zone.
Just 40 minutes prior, it seemed as if he and his team were facing certain doom. Yet heading into the third period, one felt that tonight might just be the night Osgood finally got the win he'd been waiting his entire career for.
With less than three minutes left in the game, his team up by a goal, it looked like Osgood was indeed on his way to win number 400 when the Avalanche were awarded a power-play.
Just a few seconds later, the score was tied and the game headed to overtime.
It is at this point that, had this been a movie, most people would have been scoffing at the ridiculousness of it.
Real life is hardly ever this dramatic after all.
Still, as overtime began, Chris Osgood had to have been thinking that this was about as perfect as it could get if he was in fact going to get his 400th win.
He had been his team's best player, he had matched his career-best performance and his team was now in a position to return the favor by scoring a single goal to end the game on the road in a building that housed a team he had spent most of his career hating.
Niklas Kronwall was the one who scored the overtime game-winning goal that officially earned Osgood his 400th career win.
But had he not played so brilliantly and so solidly throughout the game, Osgood's team wouldn't have a snowball's chance in Hell at winning in the first place.
As his teammates surrounded him, elated for what the win meant to the man and his career, one couldn't help but feel a tinge of irony looking at Chris Osgood at the center of the mob of red jerseys.
After all, he has long been labeled as perhaps the worst goalie to ever win a Stanley Cup, let alone two, and a player that simply benefited from playing behind great teams whose success he had little to do with.
Those that know Osgood's career, and has followed it from its beginning know this to be far from the truth.
Nevertheless, to see this "bad goalie" not only win his 400th game but do so by stopping 46 shots, and remaining calm and cool, despite the team in front of him was to see more than a few pundits and fans reconsider their opinions about Chris Osgood.
Yes, one could not have imagined a more fanciful way for Osgood to win his 400th game, but, for it to happen at all, was a dream come true in itself.
Whatever fantasies ran through Osgood's head as he approached his 400th win, I'd bet they didn't get as dramatic as what his reality became on Monday night.
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