On December 27, Red Wings’ G Chris Osgood became just the 10th goalie in NHL history to record 400 career wins. And he did it in style, too, stopping 46 of 49 shots (23 in the second period) against a speedy Avalanche team. You don’t often see Red Wings’ goalies making 46 saves a game–in 2008-09, Osgood faced over 40 shots just twice in 44 starts.
Reaching win #400 has thrusted Osgood into some elite company. Below are the top-10 wins for NHL goalies:
1. Martin Brodeur – 607
2. Patrick Roy* – 551
3. Ed Belfour – 484
4. Curtis Joseph – 454
5. Terry Sawchuk* – 447
6. Jacques Plante* – 437
7. Tony Esposito* – 423
8. Glenn Hall* – 407
9. Grant Fuhr* – 403
10. Chris Osgood – 400
Bold = active
* = Hall of Fame
Earlier this month, Osgood’s teammates, and specifically D Nicklas Lidstrom, asked coach Mike Babcock to give Ozzie a start at home in order to try and get win #400 on home ice at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, but he lost that game and the following start. Lidstrom, however, had his back in a 4-3 overtime win on Monday night, where he recorded a goal and three assists to push Ozzie to the illustrious mark.
Now, let’s be real for a moment–he’s not Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy or Dominic Hasek. He’s never won a Vezina, and has never been mentioned for the Hart or Conn Smythe. He’s only played in two All-Star Games. But where’s the respect for Ozzie? I mean, it’s understandable why he doesn’t stick out. He doesn’t have a loud-mouth personality, and he’s not one to bring the aggression to post-game pressers or change room interviews. He’s not a flashy goalie–he simply stops the puck, plain and simple. You know who else plays a similar style? Bruins’ G Tim Thomas, yet, Thomas is heralded as one of the best goalies in the league. Granted, Thomas is known for having a bit of a temper, but I digress.
By the numbers, you can’t deny Osgood is one of the greatest of all-time. He’s a three-time Stanley Cup champion (twice as a starter) and has 400 regular season wins. He has the opportunity to pass Grant Fuhr and Glenn Hall on the all-time list by season’s end. He boasts a respectable 2.49 GAA and .905 SV% for his career; two Jennings Trophies; two-time All-Star Games; and led the league in wins during 1995-06 (39). What about the playoffs, you ask, when you really cement your name into greatness? Well, Ozzie’s among the best there, too. His 2.09 GAA puts him ahead of Jacques Plante; his .916 SV% is 15th all-time; and he’s 8th in playoff wins with 74-49 record.
Since he came into the pros in 1994, all Ozzie has done is win hockey games. Dating back to 1989 with his days as a Medicine Hat Tiger, he has never once had a sub-.500 record with the exception of last season. Three Cups and 400 wins later, he inconceivably isn’t in the conversation when it comes to best goaltenders of his era, let alone of all-time.
In terms of potentially being enshrined in the Hall of Fame; he won’t have the finesse, but he’ll have the numbers. Without receiving any credit or attention, Osgood has quietly recorded more wins than Dominic Hasek, Mike Richter, Billy Smith and Gump Worsley. By season’s end, he could reach at high as #6, with a possibility of reaching as high as #5 if he played a few more seasons.
“Osgood now breathes rarified air when discussing the game’s most successful goaltenders. From our vantage point, it is a no-brainer.
When you take a look at the other nine netminders who have hit the 400-win mark, six are already in the Hockey Hall of Fame (Patrick Roy, Terry Sawchuk, Jacques Plante, Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall and Grant Fuhr). Martin Brodeur, the winningest goaltender of all time, is a lock, while Ed Belfour is considered a good Hall bet next year in his first year of eligibility. Curtis Joseph is fourth all-time with 454 wins, but never won a Cup.
That leaves Osgood, who has 400 wins and owns three Stanley Cup rings. In the spring of 2009, he was also one win away from a fourth when the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Wings 2-1 in Game 7 in Detroit.”
An accurate way to compare whether one player is (statistically) worthy to enter the Hall of Fame is to compare him to someone else who has reached that plateau. As such, Osgood is best compared to the Glenn Anderson of goaltenders in a number of facets–they both have outstanding postseason success, both as a leader and role-player for Cup teams, and their playoff stats that are among the best in NHL history. Their regular-season numbers are well above average too, but Osgood’s win total puts him on another level among goaltenders. Here’s where it gets tricky: many critics will argue that Osgood, like Anderson, is the beneficiary of a Red Wings’ dynasty, and that the Red Wings’ dominance would remain just as successful with him as they would without him. Many will argue that Osgood was never mentioned as the best player of his decade, let alone of his team. In fact, many will argue that he wasn’t even the best player at his position on his team.
Was Anderson ever the best player in his team? No, and neither was Osgood. Was Anderson ever one of the best players in the NHL? No, and neither was Osgood. Did Anderson ever win a major individual award? No, and neither did Osgood. Both goalies fall short of the ‘wow’ factor–they fail the eye test–yet both have the numeric and championship-level impact to get them into the Hall of Fame.
Simply put: Chris Osgood is one of the best goaltenders of the last two decades, and of all-time.