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Wings veteran goalie Chris Osgood a perfect 8-0-0 on the season

Chris Osgood has been relegated back to the bench in Detroit with the return of Dominik Hasek.

All Osgood did during Hasek's injury absence was go 5-0-0. Ho-hum.

The native of Peace River, Alta., is a perfect 8-0-0 on the season with the NHL's third-best goals-against average at 1.48. His .936 save percentage isn't too shabby, either.

"It's been fun. The last three years I've enjoyed playing more than I ever have before in my career," Osgood told The Canadian Press on Friday. "I just wish I would get in there more often. But I feel great. I think when you get older you don't worry about all the little things that go on around the game.

"You just enjoy playing, you enjoy everything maybe a little bit more then when you were younger."

Don't think for a second he's complaining about his role. Nothing could be further from the truth. Osgood understands Hasek is the man and says he gets along great with him. But he wonders if maybe the 42-year-old Czech could use a few more nights off this year after playing a combined 74 games last season with the playoffs included.

"That was a lot of games for him to play in one year," said Osgood, who turns 35 on Nov. 26. "I don't think he needs to play that much. I'd like to spell him off more and keep him fresh. Obviously Dom is going to play in the playoffs. Having Dom rested for the playoffs is important for us.

"If we could do that and get him where he's rolling 100 per cent going into the playoffs, that would be great."

In the meantime, Osgood hopes to keep doing what he's been doing when called upon - win, baby, win.

Here's some trivia that will impress your hockey fan buddies. Osgood hasn't lost in regulation in 20 games (15-0-5) dating back to last season, the longest active streak in the NHL, and the longest since 1996 when who else - Osgood - went 19-0-2 for a 21-game streak.

"It's fun," said Osgood. "I'd like to keep it going as long as I can, I wouldn't mind getting it in the 30s."

For a guy who doesn't get nearly the kind of respect in and around the hockey world that he deserves, Osgood is full of surprising statistics. Such as the fact he's third among currently employed NHL goalies with 344 career wins, behind only Martin Brodeur and Hasek. He's 16th all-time in NHL goalie wins and second in club history with 260 victories behind only the great Terry Sawchuk (352).

"I still want to try and catch Sawchuk for most wins in Red Wings history," said Osgood. "That's one of my goals. I also want to get to 400 wins, not many guys have done that (nine to be exact). And of course I want to win another Stanley Cup.

"So I have some things I still want to accomplish."

Osgood has gone 39-9-11 since re-joining the Wings after the lockout following stops with the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues from 2001-02 to 2003-04.

"When I came back from the lockout I knew I had to change my style," said Osgood, who played his first eight seasons in Detroit. "I'd say that was the biggest thing. These young guys are bigger now and they slide around covering everything low.

"Before I stood up more and left more holes. Now I'm trying to close those up."

He's not diving around as much as he used to.

"I'm stopping more second shots than before," he said. "I'm more square to the puck than I used to me. I think that's the biggest thing."

Osgood is doing this while earning a bargain US$800,000. He'll be an unrestricted free agent July 1.

In the meantime, his team is a big-time Stanley Cup contender. Osgood says the Western Conference-leading Red Wings learned from their playoff loss last spring to eventual Cup champion Anaheim.

"That was very frustrating but I think it was a huge step for us in the right direction," he said. "We gained an identity with our team that I don't think we had before. We've become a tougher team to play against.

"Our younger guys have played more and understand what it takes to win."


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