When he skated out to face the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday afternoon, Detroit Red Wings goalie Ville Husso had never faced a penalty shot as an NHL netminder. Two games later, he’s two-for-two saving penalty shots.
This season, Husso is doing things he’s never done before as an NHLer. And thanks to him, the Red Wings are remaining within striking distance of achieving an objective that’s proven elusive to them over the past six seasons – qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
— Bally Sports Detroit (@BallySportsDET) February 11, 2023
He was stopping 29 of 30 shots on Monday as the Red Wings were opening a five-game road trip with a solid 6-1 victory over the Canucks in Vancouver. That was including a last-minute penalty-shot save on Canucks forward Phil DiGiuseppe after Husso was called for deliberately lifting his net off its moorings.
“Like always, he gave us a chance to win, played solid and I guess at the end he wanted to be centerpiece of the action,” Detroit center Pius Suter was joking with Bally Sports in a post-game interview.
Saturday, Husso was turning in a 33-effort in a 5-2 home-ice win over the same Canucks. His saves included a penalty shot stop of Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes.
Husso is 10-0-1 this season when making 32-or-more saves.
Husso is Red Wings MVP
It would be relatively easy to make a case of captain Dylan Larkin as MVP of the Red Wings. Scoring twice for the second straight game on Monday, he’s definitely driving the bus for Detroit offensively.
That being the case, no player is as vital this season to Detroit’s cause as Husso. He won his 20th game of the season on Monday. The Red Wings are 20-12-5 with him in the net, a .608 points percentage.
When someone else is in goal for the team, Detroit is 4-8-3, a .367 points percentage. Husso is one appearance away from equalling his career high of 40 and five wins from his personal best of 25.
The Red Wings have won the past two games while missing 15-goal scorer and first-line forward Lucas Raymond and first-pairing defenseman Jake Walman to injury. They’ve won without Tyler Bertuzzi, and without Robby Fabbri.
They almost never win without Husso guarding their net.
Detroit coach Derek Lalonde recognizes that his team’s season would be a lost cause without the steadiness of Husso between the pipes.
“Just like everything else, we’re building and we’re building him,” Lalonde said recently. “We might use more than even anticipated down the stretch, within reason.”
It’s certainly a balancing act for the Wings when it comes to Husso’s workload.
“I think we know there’s some times we’ve rolled out a tired Ville and we may have used him more than expected,” Lalonde adimtted. “But now we’re at the point where maybe I don’t mind him getting past his threshold.”
Knowing what’s on the line, Husso doesn’t mid stepping in and stepping up whenever he gets the call.
— nopClips (@nopClips) February 11, 2023
“I guess it’s playoff hockey for us,” Husso said last week. “Almost 30 games left, whatever, so you still want to make it there (playoffs).
“It’s on us. We just need to come in every night and play like that and give us a chance to win.”
That’s exactly what Husso is doing for the Red Wings. Giving them a chance.