Former goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings Jimmy Howard was known for playing well in Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers. This was unsurprising because of the fact that Howard is from Syracuse, New York. Howard was drafted by the Red Wings in 2006 out of the University of Maine. He retired from the NHL in 2018 after a 14-year career with the Red Wings. During this career, Howard had a 10-5-3 record against the Rangers and a .941 save percentage.
Greiss is Latest Red Wings Goalie to Play Well at MSG
Howard had an underrated career with the Red Wings. He would routinely keep the team in games that they had no business being in. This became more and more true as his career evolved and the Red Wings began their rebuild. The team has not made the playoffs since 2016. It could be argued that the fact that the team has not had a number one goaltender such as Howard or Chris Osgood, for example.
Thomas Greiss recently had a performance that would match those of Howard at Madison Square Garden. The Red Wings would win the game in a shootout by a score of 3-2. Greiss made 37 saves and Pius Suter scored the shootout-winning goal. This game also featured the return of Marc Staal to "the world’s most famous arena," as Staal was traded by the Rangers along with a second-round draft pick in exchange for future considerations.
The defense in front of Howard being lackluster and by extension Greiss and Alex Nedeljkovic this season being lackluster did not help the situation. Nicklas Lidström was the best defenseman that Howard played with during his playing career. During the hall-of-fame defensemen’s 20-year career, Lidström was a 12-time all-star and won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the best defenseman in the league seven times. This is why Lidström was known as the "perfect human being." Not bad for a third-round draft pick.
Another defenseman that has played his entire career for the Red Wings was Danny Dekeyser, who was an undrafted free-agent defenseman who signed with the Red Wings after attending Western Michigan University. After growing up in Detroit, Michigan the 31-year-old had many suiters in the NHL. Dekeyser was seen as a "classic mobile defenseman" in his final year at Western Michigan and fit that bill for the Red Wings, but injuries have hindered his ability to get on the ice as he has aged.
Beyond playing with the best defenseman in franchise history, the Red Wings did not have much talent in their defensive corps toward the tail end of Howard’s career. This is arguably the most important position in the game of hockey beyond the goaltender.
Red Wings Goalie Tandem in Good Place
This is something that has changed since the Red Wings traded for Nedeljkovic. The Red Wings sent Jonathan Bernier and a third-round draft pick to the Carolina Hurricanes. Nedeljkovic has solidified himself as a number one goaltender for the Red Wings in the 36 games played for the Red Wings so far during the 2021-22 NHL season. Nedeljkovic was even a candidate for the Calder Trophy as the rookie of the year in the NHL. This is despite the fact that he played 23 games for the Hurricanes during the 2020-21 season.
Sebastian Cossa is the best goalie prospect in the Red Wings’ system right now. Drafted in 2021, Cossa has seemingly taken a step back in this season with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League. This downturn does not necessarily mean that he cannot turn out to be a good goalie for the Red Wings. This is if the team does not decide to trade the 19-year-old for a player to put them over the top to make the playoffs or even win the franchises’ 12th Stanley Cup.
The last Red Wings player to win the Calder Trophy was actually a goaltender. Roger Crozier won the rookie of the year trophy in 1964. The fact that there were only six teams in the league at this point puts a little bit of a damper on this accomplishment. On the other hand, the talent was less disparate in the days of Crozier. Four of the six teams in the league made the Stanley Cup playoffs which led the Red Wings fans to start the tradition of throwing an octopus on the ice. One leg on the octopus represented each victory it took to win the championship.
Moritz Seider is arguably the worthiest candidate for this trophy on the Red Wings. General manager Steve Yzerman has proven time and time again that he is willing to do whatever it takes to turn the Red Wings back into a contender. Seider was not thought to be a top-six prospect going into the draft. His reaction said just as much. The Zelle, Germany native began to show that he belonged at the next level when he played for Rögle BK of the Swedish Hockey League.
The Red Wings have certainly fixed their goaltending situation since the days of Howard with the acquisition of Nedeljkovic and the drafting of Cossa. Whether or not the two live up to the winning careers of Osgood and Vernon remains to be seen. This is just one aspect of the game that Yzerman has revived for the Red Wings franchise. The defense is also beginning to take shape with Seider playing his first season and Simon Edvinsson who was drafted by the team in 2021.
At 6’5" tall Edvinsson is another big-bodied defenseman that will one day make up the corps of the Red Wings defense. Seider himself is 6’4". Beyond being big-bodied these two defensemen are also intelligent hockey players. What remains to be seen is what type of player Yzerman drafts when it comes to forwards. If the goalie tandem is any indication, the Red Wings are in good hands.
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