Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said Ville Husso will start in net Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It will be his fifth start in 10 days.
The decision to roll with Husso speaks to how sharply Husso is playing and how important every game is now for a Red Wings team that wants to stay in playoff contention. The Red Wings are five points out of the final Eastern Conference wild card spot. Another complication of Detroit’s postseason quest is there are six teams within seven points of Pittsburgh for the final spot.
“He’s been excellent,” Lalonde said. “He went through a little bit of a rough stretch there but I think that was a little overuse and he got sick at the same time. Maybe we ran him into sickness.”
The will be Husso’s 29th appearance. That puts him a pace for 58 games. He’s never played more than 42 in any pro season. Last season, he played 40 games for the Blues.
“He’s never been a starter or took on a lot of volume and starts and now we’re going to get into some unchartered territory with him,” Lalonde said. “I think he’s going to handle it well.”
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To play 58 games is a reasonable number for an NHL starting goalie. At 27, Husso is in the prime of his career.
“I learned a lot from last year, playing a lot of games,” Husso said. “As a goalie, you want to play as many games as you can and you want to help the team to win. This year we have three good goalies, all of us pushing everybody. Just try to stay healthy and focused. It’s a long year, a lot of games, just try to battle every practice and get as many games as I can.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets are the Eastern Conference’s last-place team. You can make an argument that this is the game that should go to the Red Wings’ backup Magnus Hellberg. You can also make the argument that it is crucial, from a standings’ perspective and for momentum, that the Red Wings take down Columbus for their third consecutive win.
Husso gives certainly gives them the best chance to win this game.
The other news Friday was that defenseman Filip Hronek didn’t practice because of an injury. He’s officially day-to-day.
“Hope to have him tomorrow,” Lalonde said. “He had a upper body that was bothering him today. We’ll see.”