Decision Regarding Backup Goalie MacDonald Looms

After Chris Osgood was idled for the second half of the season following surgery for a sports hernia, veteran journeyman Joey MacDonald stepped in and played well as the Red Wings’ backup goaltender.

Now the club must decide by July 1 whether to re-sign MacDonald as the backup to Jimmy Howard. The other options are to re-sign Osgood or seek a veteran free agent.

MacDonald, 31, went 5-5-3, with a 2.58 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. He spent the first half of the season with Grand Rapids (AHL), where he went 10-9-1 with a 2.78 GAA.

“I think Joey would like to be a candidate for that position,” general manager Ken Holland said. “He did a great job for us in the short time he was here.”

If the Wings don’t sign MacDonald to be their backup, they might offer him a two-way contract to be the starter in Grand Rapids and serve as the No. 3 goalie in the organization, getting called up when there is an injury.

Some of the backup goalies slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1 include former Red Wing Ty Conklin (St. Louis), Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Toronto), Marty Turco (Chicago) and Alex Auld (Montreal).

The Wings got off to a strong 17-4-2 start on their way to a 20th consecutive playoff appearance, the longest current streak in the four major sports. Despite seemingly annual concerns about their age, they managed to win their 14th division title in the last 19 seasons and reach the 100-point mark for the 11th year in a row, extending their own NHL record. They have had home-ice advantage during the first round of the playoffs in 18 of the last 20 seasons, a remarkable string of consistency.

The Wings had an excellent chance to finish second in the Western Conference but went 5-5-4 in March. They were not as emotionally engaged at home (2-3-2 for the month) and their defensive play suffered. They ended up finishing third in the West, one point behind San Jose. Had they squeezed another point out of the season, home ice might have made the difference in a close, seven-game series against the Sharks.

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