Boy oh boy, Chris Osgood certainly has the right things to say doesn’t he? Anyone who’s ever done anything even remotely competitive can understand — even appreciate — his desire to play more, and the fire that burns inside him when he’s sitting on the end of the bench, charting faceoffs. In that respect, I feel for him. I didn’t play much when I got to college, and it’s hard to sit back and watch when you love something so deeply.
But, he’s still expected to be a team guy, and be a respected veteran, and a locker room presence. In years past, he’s been an unbelievable influence — and not just on young goaltenders, on young players in general. This year, that train has seemed to become derailed. There’s a very clear rift between Chris Osgood and head coach Mike Babcock, and it all began a few weeks ago when Osgood questioned Babcock’s decision to play Jimmy Howard more often. It led to Ozzie implying that he knows more about goaltenders than Babs does. On the surface, that claim seems downright plausible. However, that’s not the kind of thing you say about your coach, who — surprise! — decides who plays when.
When it was announced that Osgood would play last night against the Capitals, we got more gold from Ozzie, who seemed to infer that he was being thrown to the wolves, making his first start in nearly a month against the high-octane offense of the Caps.
That’s quite a coincidence. Or maybe not. We’ll see how it goes.
Doesn’t exactly ooze confidence, but he couldn’t be blamed for feeling less than ready – it had been awhile, after all, since he last got the nod. Emo Manny Legace he is not, but he’s been opening his mouth quite a bit more often than he’s been known to. Osgood continued by letting his true feeling about how Babcock has handled the situation be known:
At the start of the year Howie didn’t play for about a month and then I didn’t play for a month. To me that’s not a good way of doing things, to let one guy get stagnant. You have to have both guys going, especially with the amount of games we have, especially coming back after the Olympic break we have a ton of games in March. So we have to have two guys in case something happens.
First of all, he’s absolutely entitled to this stance, and like I said earlier, I’d be worried if he wasn’t interested in playing more. However, not all successful teams “have to have two guys” going. New Jersey has done just fine with one, San Jose and Calgary use the hell out of their Number Ones, Roberto Luongo has never needed a “mental break.” Furthermore, these aren’t things that you say publicly, if you’re expected to be treated a certain way.
If you think Osgood has played up to Howard’s standard this year — or Conklin’s last year — you’ve been living under a rock and I feel sorry for you. Make all the excuses you want, like Osgood, but the numbers don’t lie. He’s currently stopping fewer than 90% of the shots he has faced this season, and – frankly – that’s a disturbingly low number for an NHL goaltender.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not blaming yesterday’s loss (solely) on Osgood. But the fact remains that if Jimmy Howard plays that game, we have two points – easily. The Wings badly outplayed the Capitals for most of the game, hold a 42 second span that completely derailed Detroit. I said the same thing on TOV a few weeks ago, but if things continue to go the way they’re going, there’s absolutely no way in hell that Chris Osgood starts in the playoffs – should we get there. It’s clear that Jimmy Howard is the guy now, and that Babcock is going to go with him to get the wins. Case in point, the post-game press conference where Babcock was quick to steer the conversation toward Tiberius, even when asked about Osgood.
That was an opportunity for him, and I thought we gave him real good support and Howie will start in Minneapolis.
Notice how he wasn’t asked about the next game, but rather the one that had just ended. The press conference would continue and when asked about how important it is to get both guys going, Babcock informed everyone that would listen that you can’t win without goaltending and that WE’RE LUCKY TO HAVE JIMMY HOWARD. Boom.
Chris Osgood continued to make excuses and pass the buck on a less-than-stellar performance, claiming that if he had played more often, he would have made the saves we needed to win.
It was tough. I haven’t played in a month. I think if I played a little more — they were good goals, but still I would have stopped them if I were in more of a groove. It was tough, especially against a team that doesn’t shoot a lot but waits for their best chances.
I didn’t see the following conversation take place, but it certainly reads like there’s some aggression going on. When told that Babcock is playing Howard on Thursday because the team “needs some points,” Osgood responded with:
I’ve gotten him a lot of points, you can write that. I got him to the Stanley Cup Finals the last two years, you can write that, too.
Nothing like taking total credit for a team sport…and then refusing to take any blame when crapping the bed.
I can’t speak for the organization, obviously, but there’s certainly an uprising among fans who are growing tired of his lackluster play the last two regular seasons, and growing even more tired of him flapping his gums. I totally understand the urgency he feels to get back in the game, but he’s not winning anyone over with his mouth lately.