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InGoal Update: Red Wings standing pat between pipes

InGoal Update: Red Wings standing pat between pipes

… Plus Martin Brodeur doesn’t need surgery but day to day with sprained knee; Florida’s Swedish prospect Jacob Markstrom hurt in AHL and on the market in the NHL, and more in the Feb. 8 Daily Update.

Detroit Goalie Jimmy Howard

Detroit says it is sticking with Jimmy Howard and just needs to give him better defensive support, especially with his uniquely aggressive initial positioning outside the crease. (Tom Paille photo)

After their highly publicized play for Evgeni Nabokov, most assumed the Detroit Red Wings would stay in the market for goaltending help and be interested in a stopper like Ray Emery, especially given their success rehabilitating players with past image and attitude problems (hello, Todd Bertuzzi).

So many were surprised when Detroit General Manager Ken Holland declared he had no interest in Emery, who will instead continue his remarkable comeback from a degenerative bone disease with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse after signing a two-way contract with the Ducks on Monday and clearing waivers on Tuesday.

It turns out Nabokov was a one-off, and despite Jimmy Howard’s recent struggles, Chris Osgood’s recent surgery and widespread rumours to the contrary, Holland told over the weekend that the Red Wings were not looking for goaltending help:

“At this time, unless I get bad news on the rehab front between now and the deadline on Chris Osgood, I’m not looking to do anything in goal,” Holland told, pointing out Howard was a Rookie of the Year nominee last season and the Wings have been too soft in front of him defensively of late. “We took an opportunity with Nabokov for a variety of reasons. A major reason was that he was prepared to do a cap number ($570,000) that would allow us to carry three goalies after March 1. He was UFA, there were no assets I had to give up. He was a Vezina runner-up in 2008. Last year he took his team to the final four. It was a combination of things. It was a unique opportunity. The rest is history. He belongs to the New York Islanders.”

Holland’s assessment of Detroit’s poor defensive play – surprising for any Red Wings team, shocking for one coached by Mike Babcock – coincides with the loss of defenseman Brad Stuart, who usually plays alongside Niklas Lidstrom. And as InGoal outlined in a breakdown of why Nabokov fit with the Wings, Howard is the first to admit he is the most aggressive initial depth goaltender in the NHL, and that he can only get away with playing so far outside the blue ice because he trusts the defence to take away the backdoor:

“I’ve got a great defensive crew with me and I know they are going to take care of that backdoor,” Howard told InGoal Magazine. “Coach Babcock stresses that, so you know the goalie has the shooter and you pick up everything backdoor, and that allows not only myself but also Chris [Osgood] to be more aggressive.”

That would have suited Nabokov’s stand-up style well. For now, though, it appears the Wings will wait for Osgood to come back this season. But the more interesting backdrop to all this is next season, especially since both Osgood and Howard will be unrestricted free agents on July 1. After raving about Howard’s play last season, Holland has to know it will cost him to keep the goalie Detroit nurtured for so long in the AHL, and the Red Wings have made a point of – and set a trend by – not spending too much between the pipes.

Howard, who turns 27 in late March, is only making $716,667 this season, according to, and a report on Yahoo Sports indicated Holland has yet not spoken much to his agents about an extension:

“We’d like to keep Jimmy,” Holland told Yahoo. “We’ve had some very brief conversations going a ways back. Ultimately, when a player is an unrestricted free agent, it’s their opportunity to see what their value is on the open market. He’s going to be 27 years of age. He’s in the prime of his career. Obviously people have seen what our philosophy has been in building … now, we understand we have to put more into goal than we have. So we’ll see. Free agency begins July 1. I’m sure we’ll have conversations before July 1 comes and goes.”

Brodeur day to day but doesn’t need surgery for sprained knee

Martin Brodeur the NHLs career wins leader

New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur doesn't need surgery on his sprained knee. (Photo by Scott Slingsby)

An MRI on Monday revealed New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur has sprained knee ligaments in his right knee, but won’t require surgery.

Brodeur, who was hurt with five minutes left in the first period of Sunday’s win over Montreal is listed as day to day. The Devils called up Mike McKenna from the AHL after their affiliate in Albany playing Monday night at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, but popular backup Johan Hedberg, who beat the Canadiens in relief, is expected to get the majority of starts while Brodeur is out.

How long that might be is anyone’s guess right now. There is no timeline for Brodeur’s return, though the New Jersey Star Ledger suggested it was probably an MCL sprain, something that kept the future first-ballot Hall of Fame goaltender out for six games through early November of the 2005-06 season. But Devils’ General Manager Lou Lamoriello wasn’t offering any additional information about either the injury or a timeline:

“It’s a non-operable situation,” Lamoriello told The Star Ledger. “It will be a day-to-day situation with no timetable. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be a long time and it doesn’t mean he’ll be back tomorrow. You’re always concerned when there’s an injury. We’ll just have to give it time.”

Markstrom’s rough North American debut continues

It hasn’t been an easy transition from Sweden for highly regarded Florida Panthers’ product Jacob Markstrom. After struggling to adjust early in the year behind a poor AHL team in Rochester, Markstrom was finally starting to play well again, improving his performance and his statistics over the last two months, only to be felled by a knee injury over the weekend.

There was no timeline on how long he might be out, and reports the super-sized stopper was seen laughing and joking with fellow Swedes from the Toronto Marlies after the game indicate it might not be long, though it was serious enough that the Americans also called up Marc Cheverie from Cincinnati of the ECHL in his place alongside current Rochester backup Tyler Plante.

The injury comes amid talk Markstrom isn’t among the untouchables in the mind of first-year Florida GM Dale Tallon.

“It depends on the deal, but I doubt that’s going to happen,” Tallon told of possibly dealing Markstrom, while admitting he’s listen to offers on the big Swedish stopper. “Yeah, why not? This team hasn’t done anything in 10 years, so why wouldn’t I? It’s not like we’re a championship team. We’ve got to get better in every area.”

That’s interesting because Tallon has reportedly talked about a contract extension with soon-to-be free agent Tomas Vokoun, and fellow Panthers puck-stopping prospect Alexander Salak is having a great season the Swedish Elite League that Markstrom vacated to come to North America.

Salak, 23, was loaned to Farjestads BK Karlstad by the Panthers in part so he wouldn’t have to compete with Markstrom for playing time in the AHL. He has responded by becoming the Eliteserien’s best goalie, posting a 1.91 goals-against average, .929 save percentage and six shutouts, all tops in the league. Of course as Markstrom has proved, that doesn’t always translate to success on this side of the Atlantic.

One-timers from around the Goaltending World (Wide Web):

~ Canucks’ rookie backup Cory Schneider was already scheduled to start Wednesday against Anaheim, but the timing became perfect after No.1 Roberto Luongo came down with a case of the flu during Monday night’s 4-2 win over Ottawa. Luongo, who made 31 saves and improved to 15-0-5 since his last regulation loss more than two months ago, was noticeably fatigued during the game, hunching over the whole way as he left the ice and went to the locker room after the second period. He was in the medical room after the game and didn’t speak with reporters (lucky for us it turns out), but head coach Alain Vigneault confirmed Luongo started feeling worse as the game went on. The Canucks are hoping he’ll be ready to at least backup Wednesday.

~ St. Louis Blues starter Jaroslav Halak was scheduled to return in Florida on Tuesday night after missing 13 days with a mysterious injury believed to be his hand. As for his form after the layoff, Halak told “My conditioning is always there and I have had times in the past where I have gone a couple of weeks between starts. It’s just a matter of getting used to the game speed, but I feel good and I’m ready to go.”

~ Edmonton’s Devan Dubnyk had to work for his first career shutout, making 37 saves in a 4-0 blanking of the Nashville Predators on Monday night, and admitted after the game he was watching the clock as it ticked down on the milestone goose egg: “With a 4-0 lead, it was tough not to watch the clock a little bit in the last five minutes.” has all the highlights of Dubnyk’s first goose egg, but InGoal Magazine has all the details on the changes he has made to his game the last few seasons from a recent Ask a Pro Segment.

About The Author

Kevin Woodley

Kevin Woodley is a rec-league target and former contributing editor of the Goalie News magazine. He has written about the Vancouver Canucks and NHL for The Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News for the last decade, and covered the 2010 Olympics for The AP.