The last time Alex Nedeljkovic saw a starting assignment from the Detroit Red Wings was seven games ago. The last time Nedeljkovic saw the Buffalo Sabres, he was fishing eight pucks out of his net.
He’ll be seeing both on Wednesday at Little Caesars Arena as the Red Wings are playing host to the Sabres, and Nedeljkovic is up for the challenge.
“It’s been awhile but the nature of this position sometimes is you go through spurts of playing a lot of games in a short amount of time, or you go through playing a few games in a long amount of time,” Nedeljkovic said. “So it’s all right. It comes with the position.
“You’re always ready to go in at any moment. Last night was no different and tomorrow night is no different again.”
Husso is done. Four #Leafs goals on 13 shots. Nedeljkovic is in.
— Terry Koshan 🇺🇦 (@koshtorontosun) November 29, 2022
In Monday’s 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nedeljkovic mopped up for starter Ville Husso. He ended up blocking all 12 shots aimed his way over 29 minutes of work. It was Nedeljkovic’s first game action since he started a 4-3 road loss to the Los Angeles Kings on November 12. Husso had started Detroit’s six games since.
“It doesn’t matter if it was like last night, going in half way, or getting the start,” Nedeljkovic said. “You’re looking at every game the same way.”
Red Wings Pegged Nedeljkovic To Start
Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde indicated prior to the Toronto game that Nedeljkovic would be getting the nod for one of the two remaining games on Detroit’s five-game homestand. The Wings close out this home run with a Saturday game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The outcome of the Leafs game took the decision out of the hands of the coaching staff.
“Ned was going to get one of the next two games,” Lalonde reiterated. “We had that planned for a while. But it was good for him to get in there and get a rhythm. It was perfect.
“He faced some action but not a whole lot. On the other end, we want to get that balance of not over-playing Ville. This is unchartered territory for Ville, he had played six in a row. Glad Nedo got in there and got some looks.”
Unlike Tampa Bay For Lalonde
There really wasn’t a goaltending decision to be made when Lalonde was an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning. If Andrei Vasilevskiy wanted to play, he was playing.
“I have a little experience in Tampa coming from having a true No. 1, arguably the best goalie in the league in Vasey,” Lalonde said. “There was the balance of playing him vs. tiring him out, having enough in the tank for the playoffs.”
William Nylander has taken three shots on Ville Husso in the NHL … they've all gone in
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) November 29, 2022
That isn’t the case at all in Detroit. The most games Husso has played in an NHL season is 40. Nedeljkovic tops out at 59.
“We’re in a little different situation here with these two goalies,” Lalonde said. “Neither of them have really played a 65-game workload, so I think this is something we’re evaluating throughout the year.
“We were in that fine line last night with playing Ville six in a row, but the schedule kind of played out a little bit. Nedo will get the net tomorrow and we will re-evaluate from there. Hopefully Nedo puts up a performance where we want to get him back in there soon.”
Last time, Sabres Rattled Nedeljkovic
Buffalo beat the Red Wings and Nedeljkovic 8-3 on October 31. He isn’t putting much emphasis on past performances, however.
“We’re all professionals, so your routine doesn’t change all that much,” Nedeljkovic said. “You’re always ready to go in. You have to be ready, because obviously if a situation like last night arises and you go in and you’re not prepared and you get lit up, it doesn’t look good on you.
“Nothing changes physically or anything like that. It’s just mentally sticking with it, practicing like a game, making sure you’re staying sharp, working on the details and the fundamentals of the game so that when you get the opportunity, when you get the chance to go in, you’re ready to go.”