Over the past week, I've read dozens of articles about how the spotlight was on Chris Osgood, and how shaky his regular season was.
I read about the superstar rookie goaltender Detroit was facing in Steve Mason, and how Osgood would have to match him in order for his team to advance to the second round.
Osgood, under a barrage of media questions, eventually became weary of this talk, lamenting how he just wanted to suit up and play. His teammates became tired of the doubters, as well; Kirk Maltby and Dan Cleary were compelled to come to his defense.
The puck dropped on game one of the Detroit-Columbus series tonight, and Osgood shut down the Bluejackets sticks and, again, shut some mouths.
This seems to be a yearly ritual for Osgood. Despite winning three Stanley Cups, two as a starter, more than any other goalie currently in the NHL, except Martin Brodeur, despite being 10th in the all time wins list for goaltenders, Osgood still faces more criticism than perhaps any other goalie playing in the NHL today.
They say it's because he plays in back of such a good defense, doesn't face many shots, and his numbers are overinflated. Osgood answers, if winning were such an easy thing to do in the NHL, then everyone would be doing it.
This man played brilliantly last year in the playoffs by any measure, going 14-4 with a 1.55 goals against the average, .930 save percentage, and three shut outs.
Those numbers don't just happen because you have a good defense, it is because of superb goal tending. That wasn't just a one year wonder either. He is a career 59-41, with a 2.13 goals against the average and 13 shut outs.
Why do people say he's not a sure first ballot hall of famer?
A four-time all-star, two time Jennings trophy winner, before the end of Osgood's career, he could be sitting as the fourth most winning-est goalie in NHL history. He needs 65 wins to leap over Curtis Joseph and 57 wins to tie the great Terry Sawchuck.
If that's not a first ballot hall of famer, can someone please tell me who is?
Are Detroit fans just too hard on him? Maybe we are overly critical, but I think the majority of us appreciate a good thing when we have it. The cheers of "OZZIE! OZZIE! OZZIE!" rang loud and often during game one.
Osgood was at his best during the first period. With Detroit shorthanded for nearly 10 minutes of the period, Osgood faced a few short bursts of heavy traffic in front of the net.
At one key point, he flat out robbed Bluejackets forward RJ Umburger, seemingly grabbing the puck out of thin air like a magic trick. The "OZZIE" cheers were at their loudest then.
In the final minute of the game, a 4-1 Wings victory well in hand, the fans in Joe Louis rose to their feet to salute their goaltender once again, "OZZIE! OZZIE!"
Where are the doubters now? Does Ty Conklin have to come in—pfft, not likely.
We have our goaltender. He's brought Detroit extraordinary amounts of success in the past and deserves the support of his fans and the respect of his critics.
The best revenge for Osgood would be to lift the cup again this season. That's no small task and no sure thing, either.
For now, I'm sure he's enjoying this moment.