Following Tuesday’s game there was some banter on twitter about trading to find a new back up goalie. To be perfectly honest such thoughts crossed my mind as well, but I don’t think the Wings need to do that.
Granted there are a lot of very good tandems in the NHL this year: Backstrom-Harding, Rinne-Lindback, and Luongo-Schneider to name a few.
The Red Wings are in a different of a situation. Jimmy Howard has proven to thrive in the “workhorse” roll. The last two seasons he’s played 63 games and based on his play in last season’s playoffs, that wasn’t too much. He didn’t lead the team into the conference or cup finals, but he played well enough to. The team in front of him had too many flaws. (Jiri Hudler demolishing Dan Cleary in game-seven didn’t help.)
(Not that he is Marin Brodeur, but check out the GP stats on him in his prime)
That’s not to say the Wings wouldn’t mind resting Howard a few more games without chalking up the game as a loss ahead of time.
Before you really know if the Wings have a need for a back up goalie, give Conklin a couple more starts, if he falters–toss him aside. He has a very good back up goalie’s resume, but points are too valuable to throw away in the NHL so the Wings can’t wait too long to decide if he is the guy. A larger and slightly more frequent sampling will tell a more accurate story. Thursday and Saturday were the first of Conklin’s starts that were less than 17 days apart since Oct. 22,25 (both losses) . A back up has to be able to perform after sitting a long time between starts and Howard has been tough to sit, but I have the feeling most goalies would find it tough to be up to par on that schedule. Even on the pace of Howard playing 63, Conklin should have 2-4 more starts thus far.
Should you find that Conklin will not work out; instead of wasting any kind of a resource (a draft pick or roster player) on getting a Nabokov or another goalie outside of the system, why not take another look at Joey MacDonald? He was good for the Wings last year when called upon, and he is down in Grand Rapids sucking up time that could be used for Jordan Pearce and Thomas McCollum development.
If you recall, there were even people saying that maybe Joey Mac should start in the playoffs over Howard (I chalk that up to Detroit being a more ignorant “Hockeytown” than it lets on”). Let’s be clear, MacDonald doesn’t need to be the man he– would just need to be solid enough for Mike Babcock to rest Howard when needed down the stretch (say 10-15 games). If Howard gets injured, its hard to imagine any goalie backstopping this team to a cup anyway. Gone are the days where a Detroit goalie sees just 15-20 shots a game and Howard has patched a lot of holes the Wings have defensively.
Ken Holland has been too good with late round picks to just give them away, and depth was an issue for this team in the playoffs last season. Plus, you want to save all the resources you can when the Wings go and spend that 5.2 mill they have laying around for Deadline day.
What do you think? Comment below, it’s easy!