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Red Wings Likely to Stick With the Goalie Rotation For Now

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Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit Red-Wings

The Detroit Red Wings are the only NHL team that hasn’t lost a game in regulation this season and coach Derek Lalonde isn’t about to alter a goalie strategy that is working well.

Alex Nedeljkovic, 26, will play tonight against the New Jersey Devils (7 p.m., Bally Sports). That will give Ville Husso and him three starts apiece.

“We’ll re-evaluate again tomorrow but I don’t know if I foresee that (rotation) changing,” Lalonde said. “Both goalies are winning, both goalies are playing well.”

Husso, 27, owns a 2.00 goals-against average and .939 save percentage, while Nedeljkovic is at 2.96 and .912.

“I don’t know if Ville’s numbers are a reflection of his play, which is a positive,” Lalonde said. “We’ve done very well in front of Ville. And I don’t know if Ned’s numbers, which are slightly below Ville’s, are an indication of his play, too, as we left him out to dry a little more, which is understandable. Ned’s had the two road games, home-openers for two teams.”

Nedeljkovic Will Be UFA

While Nedeljkovic is the incumbent, he also will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Counting this season, the Red Wings have a three-season commitment to Husso. That doesn’t mean they won’t re-sign Nedeljkovic. Sebastian Cossa, the team’s first-round pick in 2021, is considered the Red Wings’ goalie of the future. But he’s only 19. It seems unrealistic to believe Cossa would be ready next season.

Nedeljkovic’s and Husso’s playing styles are different, but their consistency has been the same in the early going. Nedeljkovic does play the puck a little bit more, but that isn’t influencing Lalonde’s goalie strategy.

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“I just know when Ned is out there you know you have a world-class puck-handler,” Lalonde said. “Maybe a little more awareness from our guys. But Ville’s done a good job there, too. I’d put Ned as one of the top third in the league. It’s not a weakness of Ville’s either.”

The fact that the Red Wings have been perfect on the penalty kill (17-for-17) is another reason not to mess with how he is using his goalies. Said Lalonde “Both have deserved the net.”

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