Chris Osgood, the normally mild-mannered, easy-going goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings, vented his frustration with coach Mike Babcock to the media recently and sounded off on his role as a “backup” goaltender to rookie Jimmy Howard.
“You have to get into some games and get into a groove and then I can play like I can. It’s not that I don’t know how to do it. But if you don’t play, it’s impossible to get to that point,” Osgood said. “I’m a goalie, ok, and I’ve been playing for 20-some years since juniors. What I say (about goaltending) is closer to the facts than what he (Babcock) would say.”
So far, Babcock hasn’t specifically commented on what Osgood had to say, but Babcock has made it well known that the goalie with the hot hand will get the starts. And right now, it’s tough to take Howard off the rink with his level of play as of late.
Osgood started in only three games in December, earning only one win and eight goals against. He has seven wins in a total of 18 starts this season and has allowed 46 goals with a goals against average of 2.72 and a save percentage of .901. In 23 starts, Howard has 14 wins and has given up 54 goals with a goals against average of 2.20 and a save percentage of .923. Both statistical categories are considerably better than those of Osgood.
While Osgood’s rant comes as a bit of a suprise because he normally is so easy-going, it’s hard to argue with results. Going back to December 3, Howard is 7-4-1 with one shutout. He looks sharp and focused every game and is a big reason why the Red Wings are still looming in the playoff picture. If Howard continues with his stellar play into the second half of the season, he very well might play his way into rookie of the year contention.
I agree that Osgood needs starts in order to fine tune his game and get into a groove, but he also needs to show that he deserves them. Neither goalie played great in the first quarter of the season when Babcock was alternating back and forth. Either goalie would put up a great effort one night only to follow it up with a sub-par performance the next. Howard finally get it into gear and started playing to his potential, thus overtaking Ozzie for the starting job.
Osgood should certainly get a fair number of chances here in January as the team plays virtually every other day and back-to-back games at two points during the month. As a veteran, Osgood should know that if he wants change to occur, he needs to send a message with his play and not his mouth.