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- So, do you still think Chris Osgood is “a bum”, the “weak link” on this Detroit Red Wings team? I don’t listen to very much sports talk radio at all but I’ve listened to enough to have heard him called both those and it makes me think that for a guy whose lifetime record in the Stanley Cup Final is 10-2 with a goals-against average of 1.47, all I can say is that in a place that likes to call itself “Hockeytown,” you’d think we’d have smarter fans.
- If it’s true—and you hear all the time that is true—that in hockey the regular season doesn’t matter, it then necessarily follows that the only hockey that does matter is playoff hockey. And if the only hockey that matters is playoff hockey, the logic can be extended to conclude that the only playoff hockey that matters is the Stanley Cup Final. So, if you judge a player by how he performs when the only hockey that matters is being played, the Stanley Cup Final, Osgood’s jersey should be just about ready for a trip to the rafters at the Joe Louis Arena, right next to Terry Sawchuk’s. Sawchuk won 3 Stanley Cups in goal for Detroit and so has Osgood. (Although, to be fair, Ozzie got his name on the Cup without appearing in the 1997 Final whereas Sawchuk played every minute of every Cup Final game played by Detroit the three years he won the Cup here: ‘52. ’54 ’55).
- We mentioned Ozzie’s lifetime goals-against of 1.47 in the Final? Sawchuk’s GAA in the Final (Detroit only) was 2.54 and his won-loss record was 17-16. He won three Final series and lost three as a Red Wing.
- Since Jersey swept ‘em in the 1995 Final, Detroit was won four Finals in a row (let’s not forget the Final Four was just here in town a couple of months ago, whatever that means…which is nothing now that I think of it) and the Wings are 18-3 (.857) in their last 21 Cup Final games. Two of those three losses were charged to Osgood, so I guess you could complain about that if you wanted to.
- Prior to their current run, Detroit lost six consecutive Finals from 1956-1995, posting a record in those games of 9-24 (.273)
- If you add up those last two stats, Detroit is 27-27 in the Final since 1956, winning four series, losing six, and leading two games to none in this one.
- They kept saying on Hockey Night in Canada last night that teams with a 2-0 lead in the Final are 31-1, but that can’t be right. Maybe they meant 31 of the last 32 teams to go up 2-0 won the series because I can think of two instances where the team leading 2-0 did not win the Cup. Detroit led Montreal 2-0 in 1966—coming home to Olympia Stadium for the next two games no less, and lost the series in six. Detroit led Toronto 3-0 in the 1942 Final (and to lead 3-0 you must have first led 2-0) and lost the series in seven. So now I’m probably going to have to look the whole thing up and I don’t feel like it. Oh, well.
- They also kept calling it “De-troy-IT” on the CBC which I never have been able to figure out. The Canadians are the only people who get the pronunciation wrong. Oh, wait. They’re not. You also have those people who insist on calling it “DEE-troit.” It’s duh-TROIT. Rhymes with adroit
- Former Detroit goalie Hank Bassen, I learned on “Coaches Corner with Don Cherry” last night, died over the weekend at 76. I saw him play in my youth. Bassen is one of only 12 players ever to appear in goal in a Stanley Cup Final game for Detroit, and one of only seven to have appeared in more than one Final series for the Wings. Of the 12, Bassen was one of only three never to have won a Cup. Bassen shared netminding duties with Sawchuk in the 1961 loss to Chicago and filled in when Roger Crozier was injured in Game 4 of the 1966 Final. With his death, there are now only five men living who have ever played so much as a single minute of goal for Detroit in a Stanley Cup Final game. We’ll tell some of their stories next time.