MacDonald Rewarded, What Does Future Hold?
The Detroit Red Wings took part in an outdoor practice today at Clark Park. Everyone was there except Pavel Datsyuk, who had a sore throat, and Jimmy Howard, who instead practiced at Joe Louis Arena. Howard was set to go tomorrow against the San Jose Sharks, but Mike Babcock has other plans.
Instead, Joey MacDonald will start. Babcock's reasoning was simple; he's hot and the Wings are going to let him play.
To be frank, there's no reason to rush Howard back into games. MacDonald has stolen the show, and if it gives Howard an extra two days to heal, perfect. He is scheduled to start in Sunday's nationally televised game against the Blackhawks.
MacDonald's stats are marvelous, and his play has also been way more than anyone could have anticipated. He has a 5-1-1 record with a 1.61 GAA and 0.933 save percentage. Compare that to Ty Conklin's 3-5 record with a 3.40 GAA and 0.878 save percentage. Not even close. Factor out Conklin's first game (a shutout against Colorado) and his stats are even worse.
So what is going to happen with MacDonald when Howard returns? The best move for the Red Wings and for MacDonald individually is to play in Grand Rapids. A lot of Red Wings fans are calling for Ty Conklin to be waived and sent down instead, but if they thought rationally, that makes no sense whatsoever.
With Howard playing almost every game, the backup won't see too much playing time. In Grand Rapids, he'll start almost every game and stay sharp. Detroit should let Conklin rot on the bench and come playoff time, MacDonald will be up in case Howard goes down. And for once, I'm not concerned about the Wings goaltending situation. MacDonald has proven he can play in this league based on his stats this year.
A familiar sight in the playoffs will be Ty Conklin's unshaven Grizzly Adam's face sitting in the press box; not jeopardizing the Red Wings chances of success.
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