Ready or not, Chris Osgood is going to at least be watching Jimmy Howard from the bench against Vancouver on Wednesday.
Goaltender Joey MacDonald was sent back to AHL-Grand Rapids on Tuesday to make room for Osgood, who has been sidelined since January. Barring a disastrous outing from Howard, Osgood will not play on Wednesday and will serve as the backup.
In addition, Jan Mursak was called up from Grand Rapids to replace Todd Bertuzzi in the lineup. Bertuzzi was listed as unavailable by head coach Mike Babcock against the Canucks, leaving Detroit with just 10 healthy forwards.
Because they have little salary cap space, the Red Wings’ only options were either to play with 10 forwards and seven defenseman with MacDonald backing up Howard, or send MacDonald down and allow Osgood to assume the backup role. After taking the bulk of the shots in practice today, the team decided that Osgood’s surgically repaired sports hernia was well enough to return to the lineup.
For MacDonald, a surprisingly effective run in Detroit ended with the demotion. MacDonald proved to be a worthy compliment to Howard, picking up four wins while serving as Howard’s backup. In compiling a 4-4-2 record, he also picked up a pair of losses that shouldn’t have been tabbed on him. MacDonald was hit with losses against Colorado on Jan. 10 and Monday against Pittsburgh (both by 5-4 scores), but only after Howard had been pulled after giving up the first four goals in each contest.