400 wins attained for Osgood

400 wins has now been reached by ten goaltenders in the NHL’s 93-year history. But does reaching that milestone give you automatic entry into the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Chris Osgood has always faced adversity in his career.

He was given several chances to reach that elusive number 400 in the past two weeks and as the saying goes, the third time’s a charm. He wasn’t able to reach it in front of a home crowd, but making it in Colorado against a team with such a rivalry back in the day seems just as appropriate.

It always comes up, when talking about Osgood, that he has such a large amount of wins thanks to the team in front of him. But watch that game against the Colorado Avalanche from Monday night and you will see that Osgood pretty much won that game for the Detroit Red Wings. The team had played the night before in Minnesota and immediately hopped on a flight to Colorado, not having even twenty-four hours to rest.

The guys in red playing in front of him were tired and ill-prepared to play in that game. The second goal Osgood let in by T.J. Galiardi was one he wanted back. But the spectacular saves he made the rest of the game made it seem as though letting in that soft goal set his heart on shutting down nearly all of the opportunities that followed and keeping his teammates in the game.

So reaching 400 wins wouldn’t be complete without that timely argument coming up…

Is he a Hockey Hall of Fame Goaltender?

He’s not Patrick Roy. He’s not Terry Sawchuk. And he’s not Dominik Hasek or Martin Brodeur. He is Chris Osgood, and his playing style is his own. You can compare and contrast him to any of these goalies, but will that make a difference? Is he a goalie to the same caliber as the others or is he just a fluky exception?

He has 400 wins and is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion. One Cup was won sitting on the bench, another was because he had to step in for future Hall-of-Famer Dominik Hasek and winning nine games in a row for the Red Wings. And had the Red Wings won against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, many fans believe Osgood would have won the Conn Smythe.

If you look at the nine goalies above him on the “Most Regular Season Wins” list, the only ones who are not in the HHOF are Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour, and Brodeur. Joseph and Belfour haven’t been retired long enough to be considered for induction, and Brodeur’s still playing (and come on, he’s in. Beating Sawchuk’s shutout record? Absolutely).

If Osgood can manage eight more wins this season, which doesn’t seem unfathomable with how he played Monday night, he’ll be ranked eighth all-time for wins. With 400 wins, the next closest active goaltender behind Osgood is Nikolai Khabibulin, who is just above 300.

The statistics seem to be in Osgood’s favor. His overall goals-against average in the regular season is 2.48, ranking 23rd overall. In the playoffs, he’s even better. He’s eighth overall in playoff wins with 74, three behind Mike Vernon and six behind Ken Dryden. He’s fourth in playoff shutouts with 15, just behind Joseph.

Among active goaltenders in the NHL, he’s second in regular-season wins (400), tied for third in shutouts with Evgeni Nabokov at fifty (one behind Roberto Luongo), eighth in GAA (2.48), second in playoff wins behind Brodeur (74), and second in playoff shutouts behind Brodeur (15).

The argument against these statistics is that he has always had a dominant, reliable, successful team playing in front of him. Less shots in a game means less chances for the puck to slide in past him, meaning that his stats look pretty damn good. But just because there’s a good team playing in front of him doesn’t mean that he’s a terrible goaltender who relies on a six-time Norris-winning defenseman playing in front of him. The goalie is the last line of defense and time and time again, Osgood has proved that he can be relied upon when it comes down to the bitter end. He may not be as flashy as Roy or Brodeur or Sawchuk, but he gets the job done.

Of course, in the past few seasons, Osgood has not played up to the standards that the Red Wings organization and fans alike wanted him to play like. As of late, he is not the Chris Osgood fans have known to be that reliable. Most fans know that in a game when he’s between the pipes, he’s likely to let in at least one soft goal. He always looks rusty in the first periods of games he starts, but he warms up as the play goes on and makes some stellar saves.

His lack of decent play in the past few seasons has many people saying this 400 milestone should have been hit sometime last year, if not two years ago. Well, it wasn’t, and nothing’s going to change that fact. But he finally made it. And now everyone can shut up about Osgood getting 400 wins, both the fans who are rooting for him and the haters denying him every step of the way.

This argument will never stop until Osgood is well-retired and finally eligible to be voted in. And hell, even if he does get voted in, all of the people who were against it will claim that the HHOF is a joke. Chris Osgood just can’t win with some people; it’s been stated before that he’s the Rodney Dangerfield of the NHL. He gets no respect, no respect at all.

But one thing can be sure: in Hockeytown, his name will never stop being thrown around, no matter if it’s a good or bad context. He will leave a legacy and sometimes that’s the only thing that matters.

Christina Roberts
NHLHS Detroit Red Wings Correspondent
Twitter: @franzenmuth
Email: christina.roberts@nhlhotstove.com