Detroit Red Wings
goalie Chris Osgood
has seen enough to know his beliefs aren't off-base at all.
No matter how they finish the regular season, Osgood says, the Red Wings will be confident, prepared and fired up for the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
So what if they lose a few here and there before April 15? Does it really matter if they don't get the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference? Really, how valuable is the Presidents' Trophy to a team that has won it three straight seasons?
"We know how to win," Osgood told NHL.com this week.
The Red Wings will try to show they know how to win when they face the Minnesota Wild
Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET) in the NHL on the NBC Game of the Week.
As expected, Osgood believes the Red Wings are kind of caught in no-man's land right now. They are trying to overtake San Jose for the top seed -- entering Thursday night's game against St. Louis, the Wings were four points back with six games to play -- but "in the back of our heads we're really just excited for the playoffs to start," Osgood said.
"What happens now with our team has no bearing on what will happen when the playoffs start," Osgood said. "I mean, we're going to be ready. I have seen our team time and time again, and we know how to win. When it gets right down to it, it's going to be very difficult to put us out. I have seen it and that's why I'm confident to say that we'll be 100 percent ready when the playoffs start."
What about Ozzie? Will he be ready?
The goalie has suffered through what he calls the most trying season of his career. Statistically, it's by far his worst since he entered the League in 1993. Because his team is so good, Osgood's record was still an excellent 24-8-7 in 42 appearances before Thursday's game. But he'll likely finish this season with the lowest save percentage and highest goals-against average ever in his career.
That being said, Osgood has lasted this long in the NHL because of his superb playoff acumen.
He wears three Stanley Cup rings, two of which he earned as the Red Wings starting goalie, including last year when he relieved Dominik Hasek
in Game 4 of the opening round and guided Detroit to its fourth Stanley Cup championship in 11 years.
Just like his team, Osgood is a proven winner. There's no reason to think he won't be again.
"To be totally sincere, I really feel I'm going in the right direction heading into the playoffs," Osgood said. "I feel really good and I feel that is going to be my time this year."
Osgood has been pushed this season by Ty Conklin
, who has played well in his role as Detroit's assumed No. 2. The competition has forced Osgood to work even harder and, in a way, smarter.
"If he wouldn't have played like he was it would have been real tough on me this year," Osgood said. "I'm happy that he has played that way and he has really made me compete and play hard here in the second half of the year, which is great. Competition is a great thing."
Detroit GM Ken Holland has no qualms about his goaltending. He thinks Osgood and Conklin fit perfectly with how the Wings are built.
"I'm not going to sit here and tell you we have one of the best two or three goaltenders in the world, but I think for our team our goaltending is very solid," Holland told NHL.com. "Ty Conklin
is playing very, very solid and Chris Osgood
has had a sub-standard year by his standards, but you know what, it can all be forgotten easily."
Holland and coach Mike Babcock are staunch Osgood supporters. They have been there all season to pump him up when he was down and, as Osgood said, get his head straight when the situation called for it.
"What happens now with our team has no bearing on what will happen when the playoffs start. I mean, we're going to be ready. I have seen our team time and time again, and we know how to win. When it gets right down to it, it's going to be very difficult to put us out. I have seen it and that's why I'm confident to say that we'll be 100 percent ready when the playoffs start."
-- Chris Osgood
"Your true backers and supporters come out when things aren't going so good and they have been there all year for me," Osgood said.
Their support gives Osgood confidence.
"Osgood has won two Cups and won as a backup," Babcock told NHL.com. "Winning is winning, man. I don't care. He'll win two more games and he'll be top 10 all time, ahead of Hasek and (Mike) Vernon."
Osgood has 387 wins, two behind Hasek for 10th all time.
"Unfortunately for Ozzie he got off to a tough start, but he was part of the Cup-winning team and emotionally I think it's hard to get her cranked up again," Holland added. "I am there everyday, on top of things everyday, and I think he's closer to where we need him to be and where he wants to be."
Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com.