Funny how things work. Any Detroiter could probably argue the two most polarizing athletes in Detroit are (or were) Brandon Inge and Chris Osgood. Within the same week, we are now concieveably done with both of them. Though Inge’s assignment to AAA ball is necessarily the final straw, and doesn’t guarantee we won’t see him back with the old English D, Chris Osgood’s accepting of a position with the Red Wing coaching staff promises we won’t be seeing a Winged Wheel number 30 next season. The two biggest questions are a) will we ever see anyone in Hockeytown wear the number 30 again? and b) will Osgood be immortalized in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The odd thing is, I’m more sure about the answer to question b.
Currently, 35 goalies are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Only two have been inducted in the last decade, Grant Fehr and Patrick Roy. No one would argue Roy’s induction (even in Detroit) and few would Fehr’s. Currently playing, Martin Brodeur is a shoe-in to join considering he owns nearly every record that a goaltender could own. I consider these two are examples of Ozzie’s closest peers. If Osgood is a Hall of Fame goaltender, his numbers should mirror those of arguably two of the best goalies of the last generation. Let’s take a look…
Let’s start with the obvious number every person looks at…number of wins. Brodeur is king with 625, and Roy is second with his 551. Chris cracks the top ten, checking in with 401. Both Roy and Brodeur have played in over a 1,000 games though. Ozzie finishes with less than 800. Let’s take a look at what may be a more telling statistic, winning percentage. The Devil’s stalwart leads among the three with a 55.2%. Guess who’s two. It’s Ozzie by a nose with a 53.9% winning percentage. Roy is right behind him, but still the nod goes to Chris.
Also, I don’t want to hear any talk about system or players. Roy had guys like Sakic, Forsberg, Blake, Foote, and Ozolinsh on his teams. Marty has played with Gomez, Gianta, Stevens, Neidermeyer, and Rafalski. Yes, Yzerman, Fedorov, Lidstrom, Chelios, and Murphy are right up there. The Wings may have even been deeper than these teams, but it’s not like the Avs/Canadians, and Devils were talent hungry. Also, I know I mentioned some forwards in those lists. That’s because TEAM defense is important in hockey, not just the two guys that have the title of defenseman.
I would like to give additional credit to Osgood for what he did in St. Louis and with the Islanders. In his four seasons with those two teams, Osgood was 84-67. Not terrible when you consider those rosters. With the exception of Chris Pronger in St. Louis, go ahead and name someone on either team without using the Internet.
Can you win the big game? That’s the most important question you can pose when considering goalie success. I’m going to give you the three goalies’ playoff numbers and you try to guess whose numbers belong to whom.
Goalie A) 151-94, 23 shutouts, 2.3 GAA, .918 Save %, 4-1 in Final Series
Goalie B) 74-49, 15 shutouts, 2.09 GAA, .916 Save %, 2-1 in Final Series
Goalie C) 99-82, 23 shutouts, 2.01 GAA, .919 Save %, 3-1 in Final Series
Before I tell you who’s who, I’d ask if it really matters? Goalie C has the best individual numbers but his winning percentage isn’t that outstanding. Goalie A has done very well in the playoffs, but he also was winning some shootouts with that 2.3 goals against average. Finally, Goalie B is about as rock solid as they come. Nothing wows you, but his stat line is rock solid. Sounds like Ozzie doesn’t it? That’s because it is. If you don’t agree with the Finals numbers for Ozzie, remember that Mike Vernon was the main net-minder in both 1995 and ’97. For the record, goalie A is Patrick, and Martin is goalie B.
Brodeur and Roy do have Conn Smyth Trophies to their records while Osgood does not. Well, in all honesty, Chris should have a half of a trophy. There probably isn’t, nor should there be, any debate that if the Wings beat the Pens in game seven of the ’09 Finals, he is the MVP of that playoffs. He was 15-8, his save % was .926, while his GAA was 2.01. He was dynamite throughout the entire run. Imagine those above numbers with one more win, one more Cup, and a Conn Smyth Trophy. A victory in that one game may make this argument a moot point.
Regular Season Stats
Wins have already been discussed, but there are other regular season numbers to consider. First off, as a strike against Chris, he never won a Vezina. Both Roy and Brodeur have won several. Osgood doesn’t lose any ground in Hart Trophy race though. None of the three have won that award.
In terms of the other numbers, Ozzie is right there. Both Roy and Brodeur have save percentages of .913. Chris’ comes in at .905. Martin has a great career goals against average (2.22). The former Wing is actually better than Patrick Roy, 2.49 versus 2.55. Brodeur also is the shut-out king with 113. Roy has 66. Ozzie only has 50. But wait…Ozzie has those in 744 games, or about one every 15 games. Roy’s 66 came in 1029 games, meaning about one every 16. The Devil’s netminder is a freak, getting one roughly every 10 games. Now I understand the 80s game was different than the 90s, and the 90s game is different from today, but a stat is a stat, and Ozzie hangs tough.
Stats are nice, but two times in Chris Osgood’s career I think stand out as Hall worthy. The first is the 1998 Cup. Considering the pressure on the team after Vladdy’s injury and winning the year before, Osgood’s burden was heavy taking over for Mike Vernon. He didn’t help himself by letting in three of the worst goals in any one playoff run (Jeremy Roenick in game 3 against Pheonix from the blue line, Al McInnis is game 3 against St. Louis, and Jamie Langenbrunner in game 5 against Dallas, both from the Red Line). In each series, Ozzie followed up those games with wins, including a series clincher against Dallas and a series saving game 4 win in the desert. The Wings actually still won the game against St. Louis despite the gaff.
Finally, the 2007-08 season as a whole stands out for me in Osgood lore. The Wings have Dominik Hasek on the roster, so it’s assumed Ozzie isn’t going to see a whole lot of time. Instead, he has arguably his best season, going 27-9-4, with a 2.09 GAA, and four shutouts. Yet, Hasek gets the nod come playoff time. He only lasts 4 games before coach Babcock gives the reigns to number 30. In the next 18 playoff games the Wings go 14-4, while Ozzie has 3 shutouts, a 1.55 GAA, and a .930 save percentage. He didn’t get down on himself when another veteran usurped his spot. He simply stayed ready, got the call, and performed the best he did in his entire career. Just as a Hall of Famer would.