DETROIT — The final chapter of the goaltender Ville Husso season has been a tough read. He suffered a lower body injury and and missed two weeks. Then, Husso said he was ready to go and posted a shutout against Montreal. But the Red Wings were still being cautious.
Alex Nedeljkovic isn’t even officially on the Red Wings roster, but he’s going on the last road trip just in case Husso had any issue. The Red Wings, like most NHL teams, don’t provide injury information. But when you factor in the lack of clarity with his recent poor play, you end up with everyone wondering, What’s going on with Husso?
He has been one of the team’s top performers this season, and yet gave up three goals on five shots in Monday’s 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. Magnus Hellberg finished the game. Coach Derek Lalonde pointed out the Red Wings statistics showed Dallas with only two scoring chances in the first period and yet Dallas had three goals against Husso. It was not all goaltending. The Red Wings overall play was off.
But Husso has given up 14 goals in the last 69 shots he has faced. That’s a .782 save percentage.
The obvious question is whether the injury is flaring up.
“I think there’s a little alluding that this is injury-based,” Detroit coach Derek Lalonde said. “I’d be careful of that. He’s healthy. We would never put him in a situation. His game is just not sharp. We’ve seen him when he looks sharp. And unfortunately, it’s just this last week, it was a tough go for him.”
Ending on Positive Note
The Red Wings hate the idea of his season ending with a slump because he held the team together for many games this season.
“You feel for him a little bit because he’s shown us some really good hockey this year,” Lalaonde said. “It’s just an unfortunate stretch and we’re living in the current and it’s the present and his last couple of starts were just . . . I don’t think it’s what he is. He’s just going through a little stretch right now.”
The Red Wings play again Tuesday at Carolina and then finish the Thursday at Tampa Bay.
“I think we need to get him back in there,” Lalonde said. “That’s not even hockey — but on the medical side of things. We were advised to get him back in there and see how he handled that situation he was dealing with in his lower body. But even on his game, we want to see all of our young players in new situations for them and where they’re at. Unfortunately, it’s been a really tough stretch for him.”
It’s clear Husso’s game is off. He gave up a goal on long wrist shot. “He doesn’t give up that goal ever,” Lalonde said. “And for it to just go clean in from 40-50 feet, he’s just not seeing it.”
This is Husso’s 55th game and he’s never played more than 42 in a professional season. This may be part of the process of becoming a workhorse goalie.
Said Lalonde: “But this is all part of that, maybe a lesson for him in how he approaches his offseason and hopefully being ready when camp starts next year.”