Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill doesn’t need to pick a No. 1 goalie. Alex Nedeljkovic has done it for him.
Nedeljkovic, acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in the offseason, has essentially won the job by making it too hard to take him out the lineup. He made his third consecutive start Saturday in beating the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in overtime.
“I just think Ned’s in a bit of a groove right now and it made sense for us to play him,” Blashill said.
It makes sense because Alex Nedeljkovic, is 5-1-1 in his last seven decisions and has allowed two-or-fewer goals in five of his last six outings.
If you’re someone that hasn’t learned how to spell Nedeljkovic off by heart yet, now’s probably a good time pic.twitter.com/HrgxZmkFPz
— Gregory Balloch (@GregBalloch) November 25, 2021
The tandem approach made sense to start the season because the Red Wings played their first 20 games in 38 days. But the team had only two games last week and don’t play again until Tuesday in Boston. Blashill doesn’t discuss his goalie rotation, but it would make sense to play Nedeljkovic against the division rival Bruins and then go with Thomas Greiss the next night at home against the expansion Seattle Kraken.
“(Nedeljkovic has) earned the right to get the starts,” Blashill said. “We’re going to need both guys to be good as we continue this season. We’re going to go through different stretches where it’ll be grueling and we’re going to need both guys to be good.”
Nedeljkovic More Consistent
Nedeljkovic 26, is 6-3 with a 2.70 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. Meanwhile, Greiss, 36, is at 4-6, with 3.41 GAA and .901 save percentage. His save percentage over the past three games is .947.
“He’s been great, ” Detroit captain Dylan Larkin said. “He plays the puck and he’s just made some incredible saves. The other night he won us the game and he has that ability. It’s been a great confidence boost to know that he’s going to be there every night.”
— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) November 25, 2021
One advantage Nedeljkovic has over Greiss is his ability to play the puck with authority. In fact, he plays it so often that it actually caused issues in the first couple of games when Detroit players struggled to adjust to his tendencies. They now have it figured out.
“I know for defensemen love it,” Larkin said. “You get the puck quicker and you get out cleaner. More time with the puck is good. “