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Red Wings Running Out of Games to Audition Magnus Hellberg



Magnus Hellberg, Red Wings

If the Detroit Red Wings want to give new goalie Magnus Hellberg a home start, it’s now or never.

The Saturday matinee game against the Pittsburgh Penguins is the last home game of the season. The argument for playing him in that game is Hellberg would have the home crowd behind him and the Penguins are using their backup goalie because starter Tristan Jarry is injured.

Detroit coach Jeff Blashill hasn’t given any hints on when Hellberg might start.

If Hellberg doesn’t play against the Penguins, the Sunday afternoon game at New Jersey would seem like a possibility. The Devils are 3-5-2 in their last 10. Detroit’s final two road games are at Toronto and then another game at New Jersey.

The Red Wings want to use him in a game because he is only signed until the end of this season. He then becomes an unrestricted free agent again.

Presumably, the Red Wings are viewing his short stay with the team as an audition for next season. Thomas Greiss and Calvin Pickard both become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

In a recent television interview in Sweden, Red Wings vice president Nicklas Lidstrom said he was looking forward to seeing Hellberg in action.

Been Playing In KHL

It’s been more than two months since Hellberg played. He started for Sweden against Finland in the Group Stage at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Feb. 13. taking a 4-3 loss. Hellberg stopped 23 of 27 shots in that game for an .852 save percentage. Before then, he played for Sochi in the Kontinental Hockey League.

“We might be looking at making changes to our goaltending, or at least increase competition,” Lidstrom said. “So he will get the chance to show himself. He’s a good example that we’re looking for players not just in North America but also in Europe.”

Hellberg, 31, joined the Red Wings on April 16 against New York. He only had one practice before the team played against the Rangers. It would not have been fair to play in the two games against the Florida Panthers who are now the NHL’s No. 1 team. Likewise, the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t seem like the correct opponent.

The Swedish goalie has played four NHL games, the last two coming for the New York Rangers in 2016-17. He was originally was drafted by the Nashville Predators.