The Detroit Red Wings find themselves right in the thick of the wild-card chase in the Eastern Conference after enduring an awful month of December. The Red Wings have been able to right the ship in January mostly due to the excellent play of goaltender Alex Lyon. Lyon has emerged as Detroit's top option in goal and is one start away from setting a personal career-high in a single season. Lyon has made 14 starts for the Red Wings this season, going 9-4-1 with a stellar .922 save percentage and 2.58 goals against average (both career bests). Last year for the Panthers, Lyon made 14 starts, producing a 9-4-2 record overall with a 2.89 GAA and .912 save percentage.
You could say that Lyon has single-handedly saved the Detroit Red Wings season, at least for the time being. Former starting goaltender Ville Husso had struggled to find his game for the majority of the season. Still, Husso had shown signs of being the goaltender general manager Steve Yzerman hoped he was getting before suffering an injury in December. Husso injured his leg in a contest against the Anaheim Ducks in mid-December and is considered week-to-week, which in Red Wings terms might as well mean month-to-month. The most recent update on Husso's injury status last week still suggests he will be out for a while longer. Head coach Derek Lalonde mentioned that he is still unable to go into the butterfly. That leaves Lyon to shoulder the load and James Reimer to spare him occasionally. It's a less-than-ideal situation for the Detroit Red Wings amid the playoff hunt for a few reasons.
The Detroit Red Wings must upgrade their goaltending if they hope to qualify for the postseason.
Lyon, 31, is on pace to annihilate his single-season appearances at the NHL level, so will his body and mind hold up down the stretch? We saw how well Husso played over the first half of the season last year before he began to break down physically and mentally down the stretch. Different players and different people, but there are some concerns regarding Lyon's durability; plus, although he's stood tall for the Detroit Red Wings, he's been overworked on a nightly basis. The second concern is simply put: Reimer hasn't been able to stop a beach ball since Detroit traveled to Sweden. The third concern is merely wondering which Husso the Red Wings will receive once he returns from injury. Will he be the guy he was during the first half of last season, or will he be the Husso we saw down the stretch last year and the majority of this season? Although the Red Wings can fill the net, they've struggled mightily on the defensive side of things and in goal until this recent stretch of spectacular play from Lyon.
Insurance is something we all hate buying, but man, it comes in handy when we need it. The same can be said in this instant for the Detroit Red Wings. Sure, Yzerman should upgrade Detroit's defense and add some insurance in goal.
Detroit needs to bridge the goaltending gap from the present day to whenever Sebastian Cossa and perhaps Trey Augustine are ready to man the cage. Cossa, 21, is enjoying his first full season at the AHL level, while Augustine is riding high following his World Junior Gold Medal and anchoring things for the Michigan State Spartans.