Red Wings fans are notorious for being quick to blame the team’s goalie when things go wrong. That said, I don’t think that’s the case here.
I’m going to make a statement that, at the start of the season, some might have deemed crazy: It’s time for Detroit coach Mike Babcock to put Manny Legace on the bench and get Chris Osgood between the pipes.
Five of the last six goals allowed by Detroit starting goalie Legace have been “soft.” Legace admitted as much of the first two on Sunday afternoon.
“I have to stop those two (shots),” Legace said. “I didn’t like those two. I have to make those saves.”
On Tuesday night in Edmonton, Legace was beaten three times on goals that he should have been able to stop and only once on a goal that he didn’t really have a chance on.
Jaroslav Spacek’s one-timer to open the scoring would have been stoppable if Legace hadn’t gone down onto his knees too quickly.
Ryan Smyth’s wraparound goal later in the period would have been stopped if only Legace had gotten his pad sealed to the post. Instead, he left just enough of a gap for the puck to get through despite being in position to make the stop.
The most painful goal to watch, however, was the game-winner in the second overtime.
Legace move to his left to protect that post but reached behind the net, leaving him facing the goal when a wraparound attempt came. He managed to get over to block the shot with his glove but, as he flailed around in the crease, he deflected the puck out to Jarret Stoll. Stoll put it back past Legace before the goalie could get back in position.
These goals are uncharacteristic of Legace and seem to show that something is different about his play between the regular season and the playoffs.
Osgood has famously allowed bad goals in the past but at least he has the stomach for playoff hockey. He plays well positionally, not getting spun around in the crease or coming off the post on wraparound chances.
The Red Wings need to make this change before it’s too late and they need to make the switch on the road. If Detroit falls down by two games in the series, even a goalie switch might not be able to save them. If they make the switch at home, it will only motivate the boo-birds’.
Make the switch for Game Four, on the road, and come home with a tied series and home ice advantage regained.