Ozzie Chris crossed

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

DETROIT -- Those who thought Rodney Dangerfield had it tough, should try hanging out with Chris Osgood for a while.

Talk about a guy not getting any respect.

Despite winning three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, Osgood has long been a favourite whipping boy and has always had his share of critics in town.

This season, with an inflated 3.29 goals against average and a league-low .880 save percentage, those critics are out in full force as the Wings prepare to host the Edmonton Oilers today (1 p.m.) at the Joe Louis Arena.

"It's like in a lot of sports, there is that one position that takes a lot more heat than the rest of the players," said Wings forward Kirk Maltby. "Here in Detroit, it's the goaltenders. This is Chris' second go-round here and it's no different. But Ozzie has the perfect mentality to, not only be a goaltender, but to deal with criticism.

"He doesn't get up or down. If he goes on a five-game winning streak, it's not like he's flying around here. He keeps a pretty even keel. It's a long season and things are going to happen. But if you ask anybody in this dressing room, they're going to tell you that we have all the confidence in the world that he will be ready come playoff time."

Osgood, 36, has already been run out of town once in Detroit.

ALBERTAN

Originally a third-round pick of the Red Wings back in 1991, the native of Peace River, who grew up in Medicine Hat, was blamed for the team's playoff struggles for a number of seasons.

Eventually the club brought in Mike Vernon and went on to win the Stanley Cup in 1997.

Osgood backstopped the club to the Stanley Cup the following season, but was not given his fair share of the credit as it was claimed the Wings won the Cup in spite of him, not because of him.

Osgood eventually left Detroit and had stints with the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues before returning to the Red Wings and reclaiming his starting job.

Last season, he won his third Stanley Cup with the club, posting an impressive 1.55 goals against average and a .930 save percentage in the playoffs.

He currently ranks second in Red Wings history for wins by a goaltender (295) to Terry Sawchuk (352) and he's one of only four active goaltenders with 300 overall wins.

"It's about winning games, that's all that matters," Osgood said. "When it's all said and done it's about who wins the most games. That's what we're doing right now. We know we have to do some things to be better in the playoffs, but it's going to happen when the playoffs start, we have an experienced team.

"This year has been exactly as it was last year for us, except we have one more win in February this year then we had last year."

Heading into today the Wings are first in the Central Division, five points back of the San Jose Sharks for top spot in the West.

WINNING RECORD

Osgood has a 17-4-6 record this season, yet the talk around town is how the team should be in the market for a new starting goaltender because they couldn't possibly win another Cup with Osgood in goal.

"It's not what people think or what (reporters) write," Osgood said. "I try and prepare myself to try and play the way I did in the playoffs last year. But we have to be realistic, it's the regular season. You get yourself focused and try to get back to that point, but I was in the zone for a long time last year.

"I'm trying to get back to that, and now is the time to do it. I'm trying to get ready for the stretch run here and ready for the playoffs."

Wings head coach Mike Babcock was critical of Osgood's play in Wednesday's 5-4 win over the Phoenix Coyotes, where the goaltender gave up two soft goals with his team up 4-2.

"When you're a coach, everyone in your room isn't going to be in love with you every day, that's the facts," said Babcock. "But I'm not looking for that, I'm looking for them to be the best they can be. Do I think Chris Osgood is a phenomenal person? Absolutely. Do I think he's a real good goalie? Absolutely, the numbers bear that fact. Do I think he's been as good as he's capable of being this year? Absolutely not.

"But he knows I care about him, he knows he's a good goalie and he knows that we need him to play better."


Videos

Photos