If there is anyone who won’t take a player’s paycheck into consideration to determine whether they should continue to play or not, it’s Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman.
Now, Yzerman, by all accounts, provides Derek Lalonde with the pieces to the puzzle and then gets out of the way. Yzerman has stated in the past that he allows his head coach to coach, which also includes who should be in the lineup and who shouldn’t. That said, I can’t help but wonder if Yzerman provides his head coach some guidance or an opinion of such during a morning coffee or a postgame text exchange.
Starting goaltender Ville Husso isn’t giving the Detroit Red Wings the best chance to win hockey games. Despite his 8-4-2 record this season, Husso, 28, is struggling mightily this season. His .886 save percentage, paired with a 3.65 goals-against average, is firmly at the bottom of the league production from a starting netminder. In addition to those lackluster numbers, Husso has allowed three or more goals in 12 of his 14 starts this season and four or more in seven of those games. That’s not where a starting goaltender needs to be, especially with an organization that re-tooled their roster over the past few months with aspirations of bucking their postseason drought. Husso has continued to struggle to track pucks; he’s beaten far too often on his glove side, and it’s a weakness opponents continue to exploit. It’s a tough pill to swallow for the organization, but the Detroit Red Wings need to sit Husso in favor of Alex Lyon and James Reimer despite his $4.75 million per season. Husso is under contract through next season along with Lyon, who earns a mere $900,000 per season. Reimer signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million this past summer.
The Detroit Red Wings need to bench Ville Husso until he proves he’s no longer a liability in goal.
To begin the season, Reimer exceeded expectations in goal for Detroit. Lalonde’s rotation had been two games to one, with Lyon struggling to garner a start, only dressing as a backup the odd time. Things changed during Detroit’s trip to Sweden. Husso flew with the team to Stockholm but abruptly returned to North America before Detroit’s first game overseas to be present for the birth of his baby daughter. That opened the door for Lyon to finally get his opportunity. Reimer started the first game of the two-game set overseas, giving up four first-period goals to the Ottawa Senators before settling down, allowing the Red Wings to battle back to force overtime, where they’d eventually lose. Lyon drew the assignment the following day against the Toronto Maple Leafs and performed exceptionally well despite Detroit’s third-period collapse. The Red Wings took a 2-0 lead into the third period only to allow three unanswered goals and lose 3-2.
The disappointing trip prompted captain Dylan Larkin to address the team with a subtle yet impactful speech. Once Detroit returned home, Lalonde leaned on Lyon more than expected. Lyon has been rotating with Husso and continues to outperform Detroit’s top-paid netminder.
Lyon, 31, has posted a 1.61 goals against average and a .947 save percentage to go with a 4-1 record. Reimer, 35, is 2-2-2 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.30 goals-against average. It’s evident that Lalonde needs to roll with these two netminders until their play suggests otherwise. Lyon should receive the starter’s workload of two games to Reimer’s one (if that continues to be Lalonde’s desired rotation). This will allow Husso to hit the reset button and work on his fundamentals, staying square to shooters and not wandering in goal. As mentioned earlier, he needs to work on his glove side. It’s unlikely that the Husso era in Detroit is coming to an end, but he needs to shore up his game before returning to the cage.