hasek

Red Wings’ McCollum Notches Bittersweet First Win

Tom McCollum

Photo by Mark Newman/Grand Rapids Griffins

Though Tom McCollum‘s entrance to the game against his hometown Buffalo Sabres came at a 3-0 disadvantage, the Red Wing’s fourth string goalie got his first NHL win on Sunday night.

Many anticipated last night’s game to be a “trap game” following a dominating performance against a high-powered Nashville Predators team on Saturday night. The lowly Buffalo Sabres did not seem to pose a threat to the Red Wings on paper. That’s why games are played though.

After allowing three goals on his first seven shots, Petr Mrazek was given the hook in favor of McCollum. No one was playing well at this point, so the move to yank Mrazek was more of a coaching strategy, rather than a nod to Mrazek’s poor play. The Red Wings responded with five unanswered goals en route to a 6-4 victory.

McCollum was not tested very much after entering the game. He only faced eight shots and allowed one goal on a Tyler Ennis turnaround shot. For the former 2008 first round draft pick, his first NHL win could not come soon enough and against a better team, though better would not be used to describe the talent of the team.

Tom McCollum grew up in the suburbs of Buffalo and rooted for the Sabres growing up. He watched Dominik Hasek redefine “dominance” while in Buffalo and then another great tender in Ryan Miller for a brief time until he was drafted in 2008. It was fitting that McCollum’s first NHL win came against the team he grew up cheering for. It was also fitting the way that the win was achieved.

Redemption at the Joe

Last night’s victory serves as a solid metaphor for McCollum’s career after he was drafted by Detroit. It started out a flaming pile of garbage, though unlike his career, McCollum was not in net for the down period. After a decent enough end to the first period, things started to pick up and order was restored. The Red Wings fought back and evened the game, like how Tom fought to preserve his standing with the Grand Rapids Griffins after Petr Mrazek jumped him in the depth chart and the Red Wings signed Jared Coreau out of Northern Michigan for organizational depth.

The next act was to assert dominance and come out on top. McCollum mirrored that in Grand Rapids following the team’s Calder Cup championship in 2013. Though he was not always the starting goalie, McCollum have posted solid numbers in a season and a half since. After Mrazek was promoted to the Red Wings following Jonas Gustavsson‘s shoulder injury, Tom McCollum took over as the starter in Grand Rapids and did not falter. He posted ten wins and a 2.33 goals against average in the AHL before joining the big league team.

Goaltenders have always been known to battle. Tom McCollum certainly did last night to keep pace with his career revitalization. It remains to be seen when and where McCollum will have a more permanent NHL job, but he can only keep battling until then to prove he belongs.

Red Wings’ Tender Groins

photo 1 It’s pretty unfortunate that Jimmy Howard will be out for the foreseeable. It’s also pretty unfortunate that it could have been avoided too.

I was at the Verizon Center the night of the Red Wings’ stinker of a game against the Capitals. I also enjoy walking into the Caps’ arena and seeing their 1997-98 Eastern Conference Championship banner hanging from the rafters. I may have been a kid then, but I distinctly remember Sergei FedorovSteve Yzerman, and Doug Brown scoring clutch goals for the Red Wings. Kris Draper had an important goal too.

But back to Howard.

We all saw Jimmy go behind the net to play the puck after the Caps dumped it in. Kyle Quincey and Danny DeKeyser came back, but neither were in a position to beat Caps’ forward Troy Brouwer to the puck. DeKeyser yelled, “Play it! Play it!” for Howard to rim the puck around the boards. I could hear him all the way from my seat, so surely Howard heard him from 25 feet away. He panicked and left the puck blindly, thinking Quincey was coming through to take it. A few seconds later, the puck was in the net and Howard was agonizing in pain. Now, he’s out through the All-Star break, at the very least.

He was named to the All-Star team earlier that day.

What’s Next

photo 2With Howard on the shelf, it’s Petr Mrazek‘s time to shine. Mrazek, 22, is the Red Wings’ top goaltending prospect and will get an early look at being the team’s starting goalie for the next few weeks. The Monster, Jonas Gustavsson, is not ready to play after sustaining a separated shoulder against the Rangers a few months ago.

Mrazek has the mental makeup to be an NHL starter and the talent to make it happen. I’ve been an advocate of that since I saw him play in the 2010 World Junior Tournament. He reminds me of a young Dominik Hasek with his aggressive style of play. He’s got a long way before getting to Dom’s level though.

The Red Wings have Buffalo up next, followed by St. Louis and Nashville. Buffalo, again, and Minnesota round out the schedule before the All-Star break. While the schedule is skewed toward the lighter side with Minnesota and Buffalo, the other two opponents are top teams in the NHL and will truly test Mrazek’s NHL-readiness. Niklas Kronwall and company will need to be on their game for the next five games in front of “Petr Griffin”. Tom McCollum will serve as Mrazek’s backup, but probably won’t see the ice unless something horrible happens.

Let’s see what future starter Petr Mrazek has in store for the Wings as the current starting goalie.

Red Wings’ Shootout Troubles: Who’s to Blame?

This season has not been the Red Wings’ best when it comes to shootouts. Long gone are the days when Pavel Datsyuk could dangle Tomas Vokoun with his patented move resulting in Vokoun’s jock strap landing in Section 415. Detroit is 0-3 in shootouts so far in the 2014-15 season and need to improve. Those extra standings points can go a long way at the end of the season.

 

The Suspects

The Tendys

The Shooters

The Coaches

 

Jim-meh

As a goalie, it is easier for me to find blame in the goaltenders for goals allowed. Mike Babcock summed it up perfectly during the 2008 playoffs when pucks kept finding their way past Dominik Hasek in the first round against Nashville, “Pucks went in the net.” It doesn’t matter who made a bad play that resulted in a goal, the puck went in, and it’s the goalie’s duty to prevent that.

Unfortunately, there is a move, that when correctly executed, beats Jimmy Howard. A couple actually, and they are both similar plays. David Krejci and Ryan Callahan (both right-handed) deked blocker and pulled back to tuck in the glove side. Howard was nowhere near the puck. Zemgus Girgensons and Tyler Ennis (both left-handed) sniped blocker on a quick backhand-to-forehand-shoot move. It moves the angle before the goalie can get there. As for Reilly Smith‘s snipe, the last of the five Howard has allowed, his five hole was wide open. This is because Jim leans forward and angles his blade at a 45 degree angle along the ice. Tuukka Rask and Ben Bishop have a crouched, but upright stance that let’s their stick blade run perpendicular to the ice.

By the way, Howard’s save percentage in shootouts is a paltry .286 this season (two saves on seven shots). To be fair, Lightning defenseman Matt Carle missed the net on one of Howard’s “saves”.

 

One and Done

Apparently Detroit’s scoring troubles don’t stop when regulation time does. Darren Helm, Tomas Tatar, and Andrej Nestrasil all had terrible attempts. Gustav Nyquist scored once, but tried the same exact move in his next attempt and was easily stopped by Ben Bishop. His goal is the only one the Red Wings have tallied in any shootout this season.

To their credit, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg both almost scored if it wasn’t for Michal Neuvirth’s dumb luck. Pav’s snipe hit the knob of Neuvy’s stick in a wide-open high blocker area. Z’s fake slapshot deke almost trickled through. If Zetterberg deked to the backhand instead, he would have had a wide open net.

 

The Brains of the Operation

Why Helm and Nestrasil? Seriously. Helm is a great hockey player, but finesse is not his thing. It often looks like he moves too fast for his brain to keep pace. How much studying is done to prepare players for shootouts? Is that the coaches’ or players’ responsibility to know the tendencies of their opponents? The coaches do pick the shooters, so hopefully they have some reasoning behind their selections.

 

The Verdict

Everyone.

Jimmy, don’t get sniped. Fake shot, deke blocker, pull back to glove side is 100% effective of embarrassing you this season.

Shooters, know your goalies.

Coaches, know your goalies too. Also, don’t let Helm or Nestrasil shoot again.

Detroit Red Wings Recent Draft Busts

Tom McCollum

Photo courtesy of Mark Newman/Grand Rapids Griffins

Tom McCollum– first round pick in 2008.

The Red Wings took McCollum with the last pick in the 2008 draft after winning the Stanley Cup. They were hoping he would eventually take over the starting duties with Dominik Hasek retiring and Chris Osgood getting up there in age. McCollum failed to impress once he got to Grand Rapids and got sniped in his only NHL action against St. Louis. Once he rookie contract was up, Detroit declined to re-sign him. McCollum signed a minor league deal with Grand Rapids in hopes that he could prove himself that way. Over the past two season, McCollum has put up decent numbers in Grand Rapids, but Petr Mrazek has leapfrogged him on the depth chart. With Jake Paterson heading to the AHL next season, it will be unlikely that McCollum stays in Grand Rapids, unless Mrazek is promoted to the big leagues.

Next five picks: Jacob Markstrom, G; Slava Voynov, D; Phil McRae, C; Jake Allen, G; Nicolas Deschamps, C.

Others passed over: Roman Josi, Justin Schultz, Derek Stepan, Adam Henrique, Braden Holtby.

 

Dick Axelsson

Photo courtesy of Sarah Lindenau

Dick Axelsson– second round pick in 2006.

After a promising 2005-06 campaign by another big, Swedish winger, Johan Franzen, the Red Wings opted to take a similar player in Dick Axelsson. He played three more seasons in Sweden before coming over to North America. Axelsson only played 17 games with Grand Rapids before returning to Sweden. He never got used to the NHL rinks across the Atlantic and returned to Farjestads to finish out the 2009-10 campaign. Axelsson has put up good numbers in Sweden’s top league, but never found his stride in North America. Perhaps he did not give it enough time here or Detroit let him ripen for too long in Sweden? Either way, he was a lost pick that could have been a much better player had the Red Wings picked someone else.

Next five picks: Jamie McBain, D; Jonas Junland, D; Brian Strait, D; Ryan White, C; Kirill Tulupov, D.

Others passed over: Steve Mason, Brad Marchand, Cal Clutterbuck, James Reimer, Matt Beleskey.

 

Christofer Lofberg

Photo courtesy of EliteProspects/Bildbyrån

Christofer Lofberg– third round pick in 2005.

In the third round of the 2005 draft, the Red Wings selected Chistofer Lofberg out of Djurgardens’ junior team. Lofberg would play the next two season on the top team in Djurgardens, but never developed into the player the Red Wings thought he would. The big center bounced around after leaving Djurgardens and was never signed by Detroit or Grand Rapids.

Next five picks: Danny Syvert, D; Phil Oreskovic, D; Mikko Lehtonen, RW; Mark Fraser, D; Ben Bishop, G.

Others passed over: Keith Yandle, Vladimir Sobotka, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Tom Pyatt, Alex Stalock.

 

Igor Grigorenko

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Record-Eagle

Igor Grigorenko– second round pick on 2001.

Igor Grigorenko was a questionable player to include on this list. The second round pick from 2001 was in a horrible car accident 2003 that caused him to miss most of the 2003-04 season. It took him time to find his game, but many believed that he wold not be the player he was. Grigorenko played in Russia until 2007, then moved to Grand Rapids to start the 2007-08 campaign. He played in five games and failed to register a point. Grigorenko then went back to Russia to play in the KHL, where he still plays today. Who knows what could have been if he did not get in the car accident in 2003 that derailed his career. Grigorenko could have been on the Red Wings playing on Pavel Datsyuk’s wing.

Next five picks: Peter Budaj, G; Tomas Malec, D; Brendan Bell, D; Fedor Fedorov, C; Robin Leblanc, R.

Others passed over: Patrick Sharp, Ray Emery, Christian Ehrhoff, Kevin Bieksa, Mike Smith.

Showing the Goalies Some Love: Top 9 Red Wings’ Wins Leaders

It’s time to give the goalies some love. We already posted our Red Wing of the Day (#RWOTD) on Twitter this morning to feature Chris Osgood, but the tenders need more love than that. The Red Wings have been lucky to have a collection of great goalies in their history. Terry Sawchuk, Roger Crozier, Dominik Hasek, and Osgood have all starred in net for the Wings.

Jimmy Howard is the newest addition to Red Wings goalies trying to bring the Cup back to Hockeytown. Some have been successful. Others, like Jimmy, have not. In hopes to provide Jim with some luck starting Friday, let’s take a look at Detroit’s Top 9 wins leaders.

9. Manny Legace– 112 Wins

Manny Legace

Photo courtesy of AP

8. Dominik Hasek- 114 Wins

Dominik Hasek

Photo courtesy of AP

7. Greg Stefan– 115 Wins

Greg Stefan

Photo courtesy of GoaliesArchive.com

6. Tim Cheveldae– 128 Wins

Tim Cheveldae

Photo courtesy of GoaliesArchive.com

5. Roger Crozier- 131 Wins

Roger Crozier

Photo courtesy of redwings.nhl.com

4. Jimmy Howard- 152 Wins

Jimmy Howard

Photo courtesy of AP

3. Harry Lumley– 163 Wins

Harry Lumley

Photo courtesy of GoaliesArchive.com

2. Chris Osgood- 317 Wins

Chris Osgood

Photo courtesy of AP

1. Terry Sawchuk- 351 Wins

Terry Sawchuk

Photo courtesy of John G. Zimmerman/SI

 

 

Win Totals provided by http://www.hockey-reference.com.

Goalies: The Spotlight’s On You

Today we are going to take a look at Detroit’s goalies, both on the active roster and in the system. The Red Wings have six (maybe five) tenders under contract: Jimmy Howard, Jonas Gustavsson, Petr Mrazek, Jared Coreau, Jake Paterson, and Tom McCollum. Compared with the rest of the NHL, Detroit’s goalies are above-average in terms of combined talent and potential. However, only excellence is demanded when you step into the crease with the Red Wings’ logo on your chest. Here is the Red Wings Intelligence take on the tendy situation in Detroit:

1. Jimmy Howard

Jimmy Howard

Photo courtesy of Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

After taking over the starting goalie role from Chris Osgood in 2009, Jimmy Howard has held that role ever since. He has 148 career wins in the Red Wings’ uniform and has led the team to the playoffs in each of his four full seasons as the starter. However, Jimmy has posted a 20-22 record in the playoffs. He is signed through 2018-19 season at $5.3 million per season.

I am often critical of Howard’s play, especially his positioning and some soft goals. First, let me give him credit. The defense in front of him has been unspectacular at times. Jimmy bails the team out and keeps them in games.

But I did say I am often critical of his goaltending. His angles can be off on shots from the boards. He bails the team out, but a lot of times he does not make the save that he has no business making. Dominik Hasek had a knack for coming out of nowhere to make an unbelievable save that inspired his team. I have yet to see Jimmy do that. Doc Emerick, Ken Daniels, and Ken Kal all erupt with, “SAVE BY HOWARD!!!” None of those saves are spectacular in the sense that proper positioning would make it look routine.

In my opinion, Howard is not the money goalie that will lead the Wings to another Cup. He was clutch down the stretch and in the playoffs last season, but goals still went in. You can argue that it wasn’t his fault they lost to Chicago in the second round, but the bottom line is that the puck went in our net more times than theirs, and it’s Howard job not to let that happen.

2. Jonas Gustavsson

Jonas Gustavsson

Photo courtesy of Mike Ridewood/Getty Images

“The Monster” has been a surprise this season, putting up nice numbers while Howard was injured or relegated to the bench. This is his second season with the team and is signed through the end of the season for $1.5 million.

Gustavsson stepped up when we needed him, but is not going to take over the starting job anytime soon. He may get a chance to be a co-starter next season, however it won’t be in Detroit. I anticipate Gustavsson to test the free agent market this summer and sign somewhere willing to give him more playing time. After his performance this season, I feel he could ask for a raise and will get it. Detroit has the cap room to keep him around, but do they have enough playing time to keep him happy?

3. Petr Mrazek

Petr Mrazek

Photo courtesy of Brad Rempel/Icon SMI

Though he has played sparingly in the NHL in his young career, I think Mrazek could have a future with the Red Wings. His 2-5 career record may be unspectacular, but there is a lot of upside to “Petr Griffin” (he has Family Guy’s Peter Griffin painted on his helmet and Detroit’s farm team is called the Grand Rapids Griffins. Get it???). Mrazek is signed through next season on his entry-level contract that earns him just under $600,000 at the NHL level.

If Jonas Gustavsson is no re-signed for next season, Detroit could give Mrazek a shot at the backup role. However, another year starting in the minors can’t hurt his game – maybe his confidence though. He led the Griffins to the AHL championship last year and is having another great season this year. Mrazek has won everywhere he has played and could develop into a starting goalie for the Red Wings down the road.

4. Thomas McCollum

Tom McCollum

Photo courtesy of Mark Newman/Grand Rapids Griffins

A former first round pick from 2008, McCollum has not lived up to what Detroit had envisioned. His path to the show was a bumpy one, splitting time between Grand Rapids and Toledo for the first three years of his professional career. He appeared in one game for Detroit in 2011 and got lit up by St. Louis. McCollum allowed three goals on eight shots in 15 minutes of relief. McCollum has had a pretty solid year in Grand Rapids this year, splitting time with Petr Mrazek. His contract is not listed on Detroit’s CapGeek page, so I believe he is property of Grand Rapids, rather than Detroit now.

5. Jared Coreau

Jared Coreau

Photo courtesy of Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings

Detroit signed this Northern Michigan product after his junior season and has spent time in Grand Rapids and Toledo since. Coreau was called up to the bigs a few times, but never got in on any action. Nonetheless, the time spent in the dressing rooms and practicing with world-class players can only help his development. He has not had a good season in the minors this year though. He has a combined AHL and ECHL record of 1-15-5 this season. Yes, the Toledo Walleye may not be a very good ECHL team, but Coreau posted an 0-4 record with a strong Grand Rapids team this year. Jared is in the first year of his entry-level contract this year and has another two years to follow. Hopefully he will develop more and produce better numbers by the time his contract is up.

 

6. Jake Paterson

Jake Paterson

Photo courtesy of Frank Gunn/Canadian Press

Detroit drafted Paterson in the third round in 2012 out of Saginaw of the OHL. He is just wrapping up his fourth season (third full season) in the OHL, leading the Spirit into the playoffs. Paterson made the Canadian National Junior team this past winter for the World Junior Championships in Sweden, but only appeared in two games. His numbers are not eye-popping, but then again, he may not have the best team in front of him. A goals against average of over three and a save percentage above 90% indicates that he is not getting a lot of help and faces quite a few shots on a regular basis. I have never seen Paterson play, so I cannot comment on his ability, but hope that he makes an impression at Detroit’s training camp next year. Him and Coreau could potentially be the two goalies in Grand Rapids next year if Gustavsson and McCollum are let go.