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Who Starts in Goal if Red Wings Make the Playoffs?; Lyon Starts vs. Preds

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Alex Lyon, Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde knows Alex Lyon will be his goalie  Saturday against the Nashville Predators. But he can’t possibly be sure who will be in net if his team qualifies for the playoffs.

At various times, Ville Husso, James Reimer and Lyon have each been Lalonde’s best option.

With six wins in his past seven starts, Reimer is presently the hot hand. But Lalonde is trying not to overwork Reimer and restore Lyon’s confidence. That’s why Lyon starts Saturday.

“I think it’s an opportunity to get Alex back in net,” Lalonde said. “James has played three of the four. It just feels right to give Alex another crack here.”

Lyon hasn’t played since last Sunday when he gave up five to the Pittsburgh Penguins on 37 shots.

“This is a legit rest for him, where he hasn’t seen the net for a week, so I think there’s a little reset,” Lalonde said. “Probably we were overplaying him for sure. He’s never taken that workload his entire career at this level.”

Best option

After going 12-4-2 in January and February, Lyon has lost seven consecutive decisions. With 29 goals surrendered in those seven appearances, Lyon’s goals-against has ballooned to 3.10. The Red Wings are hoping he rediscovers his effectiveness against the NHL’s hottest team. The Predators have earned at least one point in 16 consecutive games.

The decision to go with Lyon is about Lyon more than Reimer. The Red Wings have been pleased with Reimer’s effort, although are concerned about his propensity for giving up bad goals, like the 55-footer he gave up to the New York Islanders.

“Love the way he battles,” Lalonde said. “Obviously, these really soft goals keep finding him, but they don’t deflate our guys. I know this sound crazy, we get the one goal, the pace is rocking, and he gives up that goal, but our guys know he’s going to be there for us. And that’s exactly what he did. Then a couple of those saves at 5-3 just lifted our group. They know he’s going to be there for us. They know he’s going to battle. I think it really drives our group. Really good on James. That’s three straight wins for him when our backs are to the wall this time of the season.”

Red Wings Early No. 1

Now, Husso is getting back in the picture. The Finnish netminder was No. 1 at the start of the season. He’s practicing with the expectation of being ready to be an option for Lalonde.

“I think the feel with Husso is to maybe get a conditioning stint similar to last time (in Grand Rapids),” Lalonde said. “But I think he’s got to get to a spot where he’s ready for that and he’s not there yet.”

Undoubtedly, the Red Wings would like to get Lyon playing the way he did for two months. He has shown the highest level of consistency.  He’s probably who they want to be No. 1 in the playoffs. But if he doesn’t find that same level of confidence, Lalonde is willing to explore all of his options.