PITTSBURGH – The only time the Red Wings were no-shows in these Stanley Cup finals was Wednesday afternoon.
Thankfully, they had an excuse.
Goalies Chris Osgood and Dominik Hasek were back at the team hotel preparing for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals while the league hosted an awards luncheon at the William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh.
The Wings’ goaltending tandem was to accept the William J. Jennings Trophy, given annually to the goaltending pair that has the lowest combined goals allowed throughout the regular-season.
The Wings allowed a league-low 179 goals with Osgood and Hasek each surrendering 84 goals.
“We toyed with the idea of sending a camera crew over to the hotel and wake them up from the middle of their afternoon nap for a live comment,” said NHL Radio’s Bill Clement, who played host for the event. “But then we pictured the look that Mike Babcock would have on his face, and that was scary enough.”
Detroit general manager Ken Holland and goaltending coach Jim Bedard were present to accept the award for their goalies.
Bedard, who has been Detroit’s goaltending coach for the past 11 seasons, spoke on behalf of the Wings’ goalies.
“I talked to Chris and Dom, obviously just before coming over here today, and definitely they are a little busy,” Bedard said. “They have some work to do tonight, which is a great thing. But one thing they wanted me to stress was obviously they think of this as a team trophy. They don't think of this as an individual trophy, and they want to make sure that was brought to the forefront.
“When you see them work as hard as they do and you see two guys from two totally different sets of circumstances, one being a European, a little bit older and Ozzie being the young guy at 35, what they bring every day to practice, this is no surprise to me. And they just want to say thank you very much.”
Osgood and Hasek each won 27 games in the regular-season, while helping Detroit to its sixth Presidents’ Trophy in 13 seasons.
Hasek, who has 389 career wins (10th all-time), finished the 2007-08 campaign with a 2.14 goals against average and a .902 save percentage. Osgood, at 363 wins (15th all-time), finished his All-Star season with a 2.09 GAA and .914 save percentage.
This season marks only the second time the Red Wings won the Jennings, doing so in 1996, ironically with Osgood on the roster along with Mike Vernon.
The Red Wings are the only team to finish in the top five for goals against in the past three consecutive seasons. Last season, Detroit finished tied for third in goals against with San Jose at 199 total goals, behind only Minnesota (191) and Dallas (197).
In 2006, the Wings finished second with 209 goals against, behind Calgary (200).
Hasek’s share of the award marks his third time capturing the Jennings. In his illustrious NHL career, he helped win it for Buffalo in 1994 and 2001.
Babcock said that the award should be seen as a commitment to the Red Wings’ defense.
“That's a real team thing, and obviously, they're really good goalies,” the Wings coach said. “We take a lot of pride in that, being good defensively and offensively.”
One big hockey question in Hockeytown was the chemistry between the goaltenders, with one having to take a backseat to the other come playoff time. Holland said that chemistry has not been an issue in the Detroit locker room.
“These two guys have tremendous chemistry,” Holland said. “They pull for one another, and again I think they were a real major factor why we won the goals against, but if you can be in the top three, four, five teams in goals against, you know that you’re going to be a competitive team.”