Singling out one player as the engine that drives the Motor City boys is a difficult task. That in itself tells you all you need to know about the Detroit Red Wings; their success is dependent upon a series of moving parts, all pulling in the same direction.
Nicklas Lidstrom may get the most hardware, Henrik Zetterberg the most points and Kris Draper a ton of accolades for everything he does that isn’t scoring goals.
But don’t, for one second, underestimate the wizardry of goalie Chris Osgood.
He’s been charged with the deceptively difficult task of being the guy who never lets the team down. Just don’t let any weak goals bleed through and you can sleep knowing you’ve done your job.
To be sure, the Wings do a tremendous job of shielding their goalie. Through Game 4 of the final, Osgood has seen more than 30 shots in a contest just twice these playoffs. He has faced less than 20 in a game on three occasions this post-season.
The man clearly gets by with a lot of help from his friends. The relationship, however, is reciprocal.
Osgood has been better than good on many occasions this spring.
Go back to Game 1 of the final. A Pittsburgh team full of nervous, youthful energy comes out and fires 12 shots on goal during the first period to the Red Wings’ 11.
How does the complexion of the game change if one of those shots gets through? The exuberant Pens suddenly have reason to believe they can not only hang with the Wings, but take it to them.
Momentum has a way of snowballing.
Instead, Osgood quelled the Pens physically and mentally, keeping the game scoreless long enough for Detroit to take the lead in the second period.
People look at the scoresheet, notice he only stopped 19 total pucks for the shutout and assume he was out there counting banners in the rafters. In truth, he had a much bigger hand in that victory – and the Red Wings’ overall success – than he often gets credit for.
This article also appears in the Montreal Metro Newspaper.
Ryan Dixon 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 Wednesdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears every second Friday.
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