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Red Wings No. 2 Goalie a Distant Second . . . Again

Detroit goalie Alex Nedeljkovic continues to struggle betweeen the pipes this season

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Alex Nedeljkovic, Detroit Red Wings
Alex Nedeljkovic and Thomas Greiss are among the No. 2 goalies who've struggled for the Red Wings.

Discussing the playoff hopes of the Detroit Red Wings, NHL on TNT anaylst Paul Bissonette suggested the only hope for that was if goalie Ville Husso can play 65 games and stand on his head.

Bissonette has a valid point.

There’s a trend that’s been evident with the Detroit Red Wings for several seasons now, a puzzling development that is as perplexing as it is problematic.

For the past four seasons, whenever Detroit’s No. 2 netminder is playing, they are basically doing a proverbial No. 2 all over the goal crease. Basically, there seems little hope of victory over this span of time whenever the club goes with its second option in net.

This trend began during the 2019-20 season and has followed a unique path. The goalie who was Detroit’s No. 1 loses that job the following season en route to completely losing their mojo.

That season, former No. 1 Jimmy Howard, playing what would be his final NHL campaign, in the hockey vernacular, couldn’t stop a beach ball. In 27 starts, the two-time NHL All-Star went 2-23-2. His save percentage of .882 and goals-against of 4.20 were both career worsts.

Luckily, journeyman veteran Jonathan Bernier was there to save the day. A starter in 41 of his 46 appearances, Bernier went 15-22-3. His GAA of 2.95 and save percentage of .907 were solid for a team that was 12th overall in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.

Just as quickly, Bernier relinquished the No. 1 role to Thomas Greiss in 2020-21. He lost his last five games as a Red Wing and wasn’t offered a new contract at season’s end.

Greiss was posting a 2.70 GAA, .912 save percentage and two shutouts in 34 appearances. But like those before him, he would quickly lose his way.

Last season, Greiss was 2-8 in his last 10 decisions for the Red Wings. His save percentage fell below .900 in eight of his last 15 appearances. For the season, Greiss was showing a 3.66 GAA and .891 save percentage.

Game Goes South For Red Wings Nedeljkovic

Fortunately, new addition Alex Nedeljkovic was for the most part stellar in taking the reins from Greiss. His GAA was 3.31 and his save percentage .901. Nedeljkovic posted win streaks of three and four games and two 40+ save shutouts.

This season, Nedeljkovic, in the last season of his contract, has been supplanted as Detroit’s go-to goalie by newcomer Ville Husso. He’s 1-4-2 over his last seven decisions. In six of nine appearances, Nedeljkovic’s save percentage is below .900. He’s allowed 4+ goals against in six games, includuing six and eight-goal setbacks.

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Seeking a backup solution, the Red Wings claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg on waivers and gave him a start this week in Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Husso is 11-5-4 with a .918 save percentage. 2.48 GAA and three shutouts. All of which leaves someone to wonder – what does the future hold for Nedeljkovic. And for that matter, based on this pattern, what does the future hold for Husso?

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