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Notebook: MacDonald primes for playoffs

by Dave Burke / Detroit Red Wings
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DETROIT – Pro athletes can make it to the big stage a number of different ways. Some are high draft picks, groomed for stardom from Day 1. Others are undrafted and willing to pay the price through hard work and perseverance.

Red Wings backup Joey MacDonald is an example of the latter.

Originally signed by the Wings, MacDonald broken into the NHL early in the 2006-07 season. A few months later he was put on waivers. Since then MacDonald’s career has included stops in three other NHL cities, and now he’s come full-circle.

Yet while he signed to a two-way contract with the Wings last July, MacDonald could likely be called upon to backup Jimmy Howard come playoff time.

“The way I take it, especially in this league, you’ve got to prepare yourself every day like you’re playing,” said MacDonald, who has appeared in eight more games with Grand than Detroit this season.

If veteran Chris Osgood (sports hernia) isn’t healthy enough to fill the back-up role, then MacDonald will be ready to jump at the opportunity.

“It feels great; this is where I want to be,” he said. “I spent the majority of the year up here and got in to play a few games too, so that’s the main thing. It’s not like I’m coming up here and sitting on the bench for every single game. I’m going to play the odd game here and there that Ozzie was going to play; every time I get the opportunity to play, and give the team a chance to win every single night. If I do that, then I’ve done my job.” 
So far, MacDonald has had an admirable season, posting a 4-4-2 record with a 2.10 goals-against average, and a .926 save percentage with one shutout – a 2-0 win at Columbus on St. Patrick’s Day. Ironically, is only other NHL shutout came against the Red Wings, when he helped the Islanders to a 2-0 win in March 2009.

Five times this season, MacDonald been inserted into games in relief. In those appearances, he has a .971 save percentage.  His latest such outing was last Monday. With the Wings trailing 4-0 to Pittsburgh, MacDonald kept the Wings close, stopping all 10 shots faced. The Wings eventually tied the game, forcing overtime and earning a crucial point in a 5-4 shoot-out loss.

When he’s called upon, MacDonald’s teammates have plenty of confidence that the 31-year-old Nova Scotian will get the job done.

“We feel very comfortable with him back there,” Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “He’s showed that he can do it in the past and he has come up huge for us in a few games. Especially the night in Columbus when he was literally standing on his head making saves. Then in the Pittsburgh game he came in and shut the door for us. We feel very comfortable.”

LIDSTROM DRIVE: The City of Novi, a suburb west of Detroit, renamed a street in honor of captain Nicklas Lidstrom on Thursday.

Lidstrom often carpools to Joe Louis Arena with teammate Tomas Holmstrom, who was on-hand at Thursday’s ceremony.

“I think there (were) a couple of thousand people there, four, five, six thousand people,” joked Holmstrom. “No, a couple hundred, but it was freezing.  It was good though, my son was there wearing the jersey on the stage, it was nice.”

INURY WOES: The Wings will  be without Johan Franzen (groin), Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) and Jonathan Ericsson (flu) for Saturday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Forward Todd Bertuzzi (back), who missed his first game in two seasons when he did not dress Wednesday against Vancouver, could be back in the lineup Saturday.

“The only chance is for Bert (back), the other guys won’t be until next week," Wings coach Mike Babcock said.

As if he would be back within the next two weeks, Datsyuk said, “I’ve watched too many games on TV. I’m tired of watching TV. I want to be on TV.”

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