Finally, after using four different starting goalies in six years, the ride has come to a complete stop and everyone can get off.
However, please forgive Chris Osgood if he starts believing those apocalyptic street preachers. Jimmy Howard is coming into his own, and the end is nigh for Ozzy as starting goaltender of the Detroit Red Wings.
In a season where the Wings are struggling for goals, let alone to stay healthy, inconsistent play in net is something the team cannot overcome anymore. Howard has provided the team a dependable option. Granted, he is only 19 games into his career as a viable candidate for the starting job, but he is certainly stating his case.
Through those 19 games, Howard is 11-7-1, with a 2.36 GAA and a .916 save percentage. Those are numbers we haven’t see from Osgood in years.
This season, Ozzy is posting a 7-6-4 record, with a 2.72 GAA and a .901 save percentage. Fairly paltry numbers, and they feel worse given his promise in the offseason for a comeback after his disastrous regular season in 2008, where he posted a 3.09 GAA and a .887 save percentage.
Yes, we are all well aware of the fantastic run he had in last year’s Stanley Cup run. Guess who else have had Cinderella-esque playoff runs? J.S. Giguere and Brian Boucher. Where are they now? Backing up their team’s respective starters.
“He’ll turn it on in the playoffs,” say the Ozzy sympathizers. There are two serious issues with that statement: 1) There’s no such thing as an “on/off” switch in hockey. If you’re not playing 100 percent all the time, you shouldn’t be playing. 2) Those that believe in said “on/off” switch end up missing the playoffs or being upset in the first round. Case in point: the San Jose Sharks.
“He’s a clutch goalie,” say the apologists. If stealing games for an under-manned team trying to tread water and stay in the playoff picture isn’t clutch, I don’t know what is. In that instance, Ozzy has been anything but.
Howard has been the only constant in terms of winning games and minimizing those demoralizing soft goals. He is seeing the majority of starts now, and has won seven of his last nine. To him replace with Osgood for the playoffs (assuming the team gets there) would be both unfair and send the wrong message to your future franchise goalie.
Congratulations Detroit! You have a new starting goaltender. Hopefully this one can help resurrect this disastrous season.