One of the biggest concerns for the Detroit Red Wings coming out of the 22’-23’ season was the goaltending, and more specifically, putting too much on Ville Husso’s plate in terms of games played. It was more than noticeable towards the end of the season when Husso’s numbers took a steep decline. He was not getting any help from his backup counterparts, who were meant to provide relief from the long and arduous season.
Last season, the combination of Alex Nedeljkovic and Magnus Hellberg was less than stellar, with GAA of 3.29 and 3.53, while their save percentages sat at 0.885 and 0.895, respectively. Together, the tandem filled the net for 32 games but only managed to muster up nine wins combined. In many ways, the goaltending was the undoing of any playoff hopes Detroit may have had mid-season. Jump ahead to the offseason.
In a flurry of free agent signings, Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman took it upon himself to replace Hellberg and Nedeljkovic with James Reimer and Alex Lyon. Although Lyon has not seen any playing time, he made the team out of training camp and still holds a roster spot. Some fans have questioned that decision since carrying three goaltenders inherently takes a spot away from one of the budding prospects who should start to get some playing time in a push to the young future of the club.
The Detroit Red Wings are getting positive production in goal behind Ville Husso.
This roster decision could certainly be explained away by the fact that the division rival Tampa Bay Lightning has lost their All-Star goalie for a longer than ideal amount of time. If Detroit were to waive either Lyon or Reimer, they would undoubtedly be scooped up, potentially, by a team that the Detroit Red Wings have battled with in the standings for a playoff spot. The other explanation could be a simpler one. Maybe the club realized that Ville Husso could reach another level of his game if he were given a boost in confidence that the team would not drown without him in the net. Additionally, having two other capable goalies behind him could push him to reach the heights that Yzerman was seeking when he made the trade with St. Louis to acquire his services.
Currently, James Reimer has been given the nod to take his place in the blue paint twice this season. He put up a shutout in his first start and dominated in another against Calgary, in which he turned away 29 of 31 shots. This gives him a GAA of 1.00 and a SV% of .963. What has really stuck out is the amount of kick saves that Reimer has shown in his starts thus far.
Quite often, you would see an uncomfortable amount of rebounds given up with a goaltender who has such lively leg pads. However, whether it is intentional or just luck, he has seemed to be able to direct the puck to his defenders for a quick clear out of the zone. Granted, two games played is a much smaller sample size than the 32 games that Ned and Hellberg performed in. Regardless, it is still a promising start to a deprived goaltending room from just a year ago.
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With both Husso and Reimer playing well, there is a level of comfort in knowing one of them can falter, and the team will still have a capable netminder to fill in for the needed amount of games. Assuming the team holds onto Lyon for an extended period of time, there is also a chance to see a third goalie shine at the moment, making Coach Derek Lalonde’s choice for a starter much more difficult night in and night out.