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Wings Babcock paying for his ‘rookie’ mistake

DETROIT, Mich. – The buzz in Detroit’s sport’s scene that is picking up steam is surrounded around Red Wings rookie jimmy howard red wingsgoaltender Jimmy Howard.Expect to hear chants of Ozzie, Ozzie! if Howard has a game even remotely close to the one he had on his home ice last night in a 4-3 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks.

A candidate for NHL rookie of the year, 26-year-old Howard has looked anything but during this second-round NHL Playoff series against the San Jose Sharks.

After a rough start in the first-round playoff series against the Coyotes, Howard buckled down and posted a shutout and a few one-goal games and his heavily-favored team took the series in seven games. Since then, Howard’s journey has been a roller-coaster ride, one that starts at the top of the track and spirals down at a high rate of speed.

Now trailing the Sharks 0-3, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is starting to look like a rookie himself.

Why would a coach with a Stanley Cup winning goalie on the roster, come into these playoffs having prepared only to play his rookie while disregarding his playoff-experienced goalie.

Chris Osgood was between the pipes and led the Red Wings to their last Holy Grail in 2008 with an outstanding 1.55 GAA and last year took the team to a Finals Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins with another impressive GAA of 2.01. Yet Ozzie has started just one game since January 27th.

Babcock now finds himself with his hands tied by handing the torch to a rookie who appears to be choking in these playoffs.

Howard has let in a few goals that his hometown media is referring to as “soft goals” but the explanation regarding those goals should include the words “Pee-Wee mistake”.

One in particular is the game-tying goal last night that all but eliminated the Red Wings in these playoffs.

Sharks rookie Logan Couture had the puck near the goal line at a near impossible angle and managed to flip the puck past the shocked and dumbfounded Howard.

If Howard was hugging the post as goalies are taught in Pee Wee hockey, it would have been impossible for that puck to go in the net and the Wings may have suddenly found themselves back in this series with the next game on home ice and a chance to tie it up at 2-2.

Detroit has a history of pulling goalies as quick as Sparky Anderson would yank his pitchers when they hovered around the 100-pitch mark. This year however is a different story with Babcock going into the playoffs prepared to play only Howard.

The timing of Osgood’s benching and absurdness of this whole ordeal has to make you wonder if there is a lot more involved with this; what is going on in the locker room?

Osgood has seen the ice for just one start since the Olympic Games in Vancouver, you know the Olympic Games where Babcock coached the Canadian Team, the one where Osgood wasn’t even given an opportunity to tryout for the team.

Since the Olympics ended and the NHL returned to play, Osgood has been implanted on the end of the bench, except for the one lone start April 4th and another game on March 3rd when Howard was yanked after letting in 4 goals on 21 shots.

At this point it would be criminal for Babcock to ask Ozzie to put on the pads and try to bail out the Red Wings like he did in the 2008 Stanley Cup winning year.

That season, Babcock yanked Dominic Hasek in favor of Osgood and weeks later, Ozzie was hoisting another cup.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax™

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