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THN.com Blog: Wings wonky goaltending a real worry

Chris Osgood is 20-6-7, but his 3.30 GAA and .878 SP leaves a lot to be desired. (Getty Images)

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Chris Osgood is 20-6-7, but his 3.30 GAA and .878 SP leaves a lot to be desired. (Getty Images)

So, obviously my last Monday blog was so influential that mere hours after it was posted, the Minnesota Wild took goaltender Niklas Backstrom off the market by signing him to a long-term deal. Similarly, apologies to Florida Panthers fans for attempting to foist Daniel Briere’s porcelain groin upon your team.

But the raison d’être of the Backstrom-to-Detroit concept I had floated still resonates, perhaps even more so this week than before the trade deadline. Think about it: back then, the Red Wings had only given up eight goals in a game once this season. Now, it’s been twice in a week.

Detroit did nothing at the trade deadline and though the Red Wings are indeed perched atop the Western Conference standings, there isn’t exactly a “Chris Osgood for Vezina” campaign afoot.

Now, it is true Osgood helped Detroit win a Stanley Cup last season, but there’s the key to that sentence: last season. By all accounts he is causing the Wings to work harder for victories this year and the playoffs are no time to be spilling blood in the water.

The latest Detroit debacle, an 8-2 teeth-smashing at the hands of the division rival Columbus Blue Jackets, was rife with turnovers on the Wings side. Many of these resulted in goals. But all good teams have bad defensive games. The ones not named Detroit this year have rarely given up that many goals.

In fact, since January, the Red Wings have given up six goals or more four times (not including a 6-5 shootout loss to Colorado). Vancouver, since Roberto Luongo has come back in net, has not suffered that indignity, nor has Boston. San Jose and Washington have been shamed once. New Jersey had seven hung on them by the Isles this weekend; also a first in that time span. Calgary has met the inglorious fate three times since January, but seldom-used backup Curtis McElhinney played all 60 minutes in two of them.

Not that the Wings can do anything about it now. Ty Conklin, the team’s other regular netminder, has been known to excel for stretches, so maybe he is the answer come playoff time. On the record, the Wings will say they have the talent to repeat as champions. But you have to wonder what happens when a hungry first-round opponent – Nashville, perhaps – keys in on Detroit’s pretty obvious weakness in a seven-game series.

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COLE TURNS TO DIAMOND
Speaking of the trade deadline, how about Carolina’s move to get back power forward Erik Cole? As THN.com editor Edward Fraser joked this morning, it’s almost as if the Hurricanes also got the old Eric Staal in the package as well.

Sure, the Canes aren’t going to get 15 points every night from the Cole-Staal-Tuomo Ruutu line, as they did in a 9-3 shellacking of Tampa on Saturday, but Staal, THN’s Player of the Week, has been on fire since his good buddy’s return and looking more like the 100-point producer he was a couple years back, rather than the 65-point player he was on pace to become just a week before.

Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his column - The Straight Edge - every Friday, and his features, The Hot List and Prep Watch appears Tuesdays and Thursdays.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

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