Magnus Hellberg has returned from his conditioning assignment with the Grand Rapids Griffins and Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said he’s in the mix to play.
“We are game-to-game with our three goalies,” Lalonde said Monday after practice.
Ville Husso is unquestionably the Red Wings’ No. 1 goalie, having earned that with consistent strong play all season. But his backup Alex Nedeljkovic is carrying a bloated 4.09 goals-against average and an undesirable .880 save percentage. With every point important in a playoff hunt, the Red Wings may not be able to be patient with Nedeljkovic’s slump.
“Ville will play Tuesday against Carolina and then we will go from there,” Lalonde said. “It will probably be a post-game decision on what we do Wednesday (against Minnesota). It could be Ville. He looked really good in his last opportunity back-to-back.”
On Dec. 4, Husso made 32 saves to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets, the day after playing well in a loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Lalonde said this has always been the plan, but it undoubtedly helps Hellberg’s case that he posted a 2.50 GAA and .932 save percentage in four game. When you also factor in that Hellberg stopped 29 of 31 for the Ottawa Senators to beat Dallas earlier this season, there’s a case to give Hellberg a chance.
While Hellberg was in Grand Rapids, Lalonde received updates from GM Steve Yzerman and the Grand Rapids staff.
“They said he performed well,” Lalonde said. “Again, I just like that he did what we asked of him. He did not have to agree with the conditioning stint.”
The 6-foot-6 Swedish netminder faced 146 shots in his four starts for the Grand Rapids Griffins.
“Obviously it’s a lot different from just practicing and playing games,” Hellberg said. “It’s a lot more mental playing games. Obviously that’s why you play the game, to compete and try to win as many games as you can. It was a lot of fun getting some game action. So I think it was really good for me to see a lot of shots for sure.”
Hellberg arrived back in Detroit Sunday night and hadn’t had time to talk to the coaches or Yzerman.
“We’ll see what happens,” Hellberg said. “Obviously I’m prepared to be in a game.I think I have to have that mindset, to be ready if I get called upon. So we’ll see. I’ll take it day by day but I feel good.