Defense wins championships.
Or to be more specific, goalies whose first names start with the letter "J" win championships, or at least that is what the Red Wings will be hoping for during this upcoming season.
Lets take a look at how the Red Wings goaltender situation shapes out to be:
Jimmy Howard, 28 - Prior to last years all-star break there were few goalies in the NHL who were better than Jimmy Howard. He had recorded 30 wins and was carrying the Wings down their impressive home win streak. However, after that Howard got injured and would play sparingly for the rest of the season, only winning 5 more games.
That is all behind us now and as we prepare for the next season I am confident in that Howard will play great. There are two things to consider: First, there are less games to be played this season, secondly, the schedule is much tighter and there will be less break time. The first is undoubtedly beneficial to any NHL goalie while the second generally hurts most goalies although I don't think it will affect Jimmy as much as it will others. He has proved in the past that he can carry this team over a long stretch and I think he will do so this year as well.
Although he may start off a little rusty, expect Howard to have yet another great season. Although I do expect his GAA to worsen a bit due to the Wings shaken up defensive core.
Jonas Gustavsson, 28 - This will be "The Monsters" first season in the Winged Wheel and I would expect it to be a fairly decent season. I do believe he is a overall pretty talented goalkeeper and a lot of his struggles have been partly due to the Maple Leafs below average defense. One thing to keep in mind for this season is that I don't expect Gustavsson to play in all too many games. Despite the schedule being tighter, every game will count this season and I expect the coaching staff will want to play Howard as much as possible.
Nonetheless, expect Gustavsson to play in 10-15 games and record better numbers than last season, although not much better. The 2013-2014 season will be the real test for Jonas to see if he can perform over longer stretches.
Petr Mrazek - As has been stated before, one of the positives out of this lockout is that we've been able to more carefully watch the Grand Rapids Griffins and thus we have all been able to see what a fantastic prospect Mrazek is turning out to be. In 15 games with the Griffs, Mrazek has won 12 games and has recorded a 2.12 GAA and a 0.922 Save percentage.
Don't expect Mrazek to play with the Wings this season unless one of our goalies gets injured for an extended amount of time. Points will be so much more important this season that we can't afford to try Mrazek out in case he shits the bed. I can't wait until next years preseason though where we will really be able to see how talented Mrazek is versus some NHL'ers.
Tomas McCollum - Last but not least is Thomas McCollum who has surprisingly played half decent for the Griffins this year. He has won 8 out of 14 games and has recorded a 2.53 GAA and a 0.906 save percentage.
McCollum still has a long way to go before he deserves any NHL time and certainly won't get any this season. His only priority right now should be to continue to prove that he can at least play at an AHL level, which is still highly debatable.
Anyways guys, HAPPY END OF LOCKOUT!