The Detroit Red Wings did not figure to have goaltending problems this season, and expectations have held true.
The man getting it done in goal, though, might not be the one they had in mind.
Chris Osgood, it appears, has supplanted Dominik Hasek as the No. 1 goalie in Motown, though the 42-year-old Hasek won't concede as much.
"There are 60 games left and I know the way I practise and the way I see the puck, I know I'll play better," Hasek said. "I want to see more determination out of myself. I haven't done my job."
Trouble is, Hasek might not get an opportunity to improve his work skills unless Osgood gets hurt. The latter leads the NHL with a 1.65 goals-against average and is 10-1 with a .930 save percentage. Since returning to the Wings in 2005-06, Osgood's record is 41-10-11. The numbers this season help solidify the notion that Osgood, who is slated to start against Columbus tonight, has been making the big saves and Hasek has not.
Osgood, who turns 35 on Monday, won two Stanley Cups in his previous stint with the Wings. Given Detroit's long history, it's hard to believe that only Terry Sawchuk defended the Wings net more than Osgood has.
The late Sawchuk had 352 wins for the Wings, compared with Osgood's 262. Another Hall of Famer, Harry Lumley, is third in franchise history with 163.
"You enjoy it more because your brain isn't scattered like it is when you're younger," Osgood said of his winning ways. "You're more focused. Not that it's easy, but you just know what to expect."
SHARP AND SHORT
The good vibes blowing out of the Windy City regarding Chicago Blackhawks rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews have overshadowed the play of Patrick Sharp, who leads the NHL with five short-handed goals.
The Hawks have 10 goals while a man down, also tops in the league, and they have seven on the road, another high. The Ottawa Senators are second in the NHL in short-handed goals with a total of five.
"I wish I could come up with an answer," Sharp said. "We took our beatings for a couple years in Chicago and winning is certainly new to this team and it's fun."
What's more, Chicago has been getting it done without Martin Havlat, who has not played since suffering a shoulder injury in the season opener. Havlat led the club in scoring last season with 57 points in just 56 games.
Though he has not put a timetable on his return, Nashville Predators forward Steve Sullivan, who has not played since last February because of a back injury, is encouraged. "The past two weeks have been great," Sullivan said. "I'm finally seeing (positive) results." ... Edmonton Oilers forward Raffi Torres has no points in 12 games, and the six points he has were recorded in three of the Oilers' 22 games ... Despite his club's success, San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson is not happy. "I can look at the standings and say we played all these road games and we have 25 points and this and this," Wilson said. "But that's not the report card I am operating on. We're certainly not satisfied with where we are at."