Let’s face it; goaltending has not been a strong point for the Red Wings over the past few years. Detroit has had some great goaltenders in the past. Names like Chris Osgood, Mike Vernon, Dominik Hasek, Manny Legace, and many others bring up some great memories of the past.
The last couple of seasons have been tough, with Detroit’s goalies having some great nights and following it up with some horrible performances, which seemed to happen more often than not. In fact, the 9-2 loss against the Coyotes last season reminded me that you could pull a goalie and then pull his replacement and put the original goalie back in!
This offseason, the Red Wings acquired goaltender Ville Husso from the St. Louis Blues for a third-round pick in the 2022 draft and signed him to a three-year deal. I didn’t watch too many Blues games, so I didn’t have a good feeling about where Husso would be. I checked out his stats at NHL.com, and with a GAA of 2.56 and a save percentage of .919 last year, he looked like a solid addition to the team.
The Red Wings already had Alex Nedeljkovic signed through the 2022 season, so we knew he would be around for another season. This gives Detroit two solid options to put in the net on any given night.
The Red Wings’ starting goaltending has alternated almost every game, giving both contenders a fair shot to win the top spot.
The regular season started with Husso in goal against the Canadiens in the regular season opening game for the Wings. Husso put on a masterful performance stopping every shot that came his way and putting up a shutout in his first regular-season outing as a Red Wing. This put the pressure on Nedeljkovic for his first game of the year in New Jersey, which ended up as a win while only allowing two goals. The every other game rotation continued with both guys having ups and downs along the way.
So far, only Husso has played in two games in a row, as he was in for the game against Boston and then played against the Wild at home. The game in Boston went well for him outside of stretch, where three goals were scored on him in less than three minutes. He did bounce back in the next game against the Wild by only giving up one goal, which was to Kaprizov on a breakaway.
Ned has had his chances with playing almost every other game but hasn’t gotten a win since the road win against New Jersey. He has over a 4.00 GAA, and a sub-0.900 save percentage. He had a tough game against the Sabres, but it wasn’t as bad as it looked, considering how often he was hung out to dry and left to stop a point-blank shot. It sure doesn’t look good when you allow six or more goals two games in a row. I don’t think the numbers he has are indicative of his play.
Who will be the Red Wings’ top goaltender as the season progresses?
At this point in the season, I am picking Husso for the top spot. Don’t get me wrong; I think Ned will get his fair share of ice time throughout the season; I believe that Husso is looking like the more solid goalie as of now.
He has the better stats and, to me, has looked better in my view from the stands and on TV. There have been a few occasions where he has bailed the team out of some big mistakes and seems to be very confident in the net.
I feel like Nedeljkovic has missed some goals that he should have had, which definitely needs to be improved. To be fair, he has been completely left hanging by his teammates on several occasions and has been able to make some incredible saves at times.
There is no reason to give up on Ned, and I feel he will continue to improve as the season progresses. Even though his last couple of games has been a disaster, all the blame does not fall on him.
No matter who ends up with the top spot, the real winner will be the Red Wings, as the goaltending competition will not end since goalies have the habit of going hot and cold throughout the seasons.
The best situation the team can come up with is a steady rotation of the two throughout the season so that both guys stay fresh, and if someone ends up getting injured along the way, there will be a solid top goalie.
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Who do you think has been the best so far? Who should be the top dog of this tandem? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!