Babcock tabs the hot goalie, Gustavsson, to start tonight against Florida

DETROIT — Quick update from the Wings’ optional morning skate at Joe Louis Arena prior to their game tonight against the Florida Panthers.

Wings coach Mike Babcock has decided to stick with Jonas Gustavsson in goal.

Gustavsson was in goal for the Wings’ 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils Friday night.

“Gus couldn’t even get in the net last year, that’s why you’re mentally tough and stick to it,” Babcock said. “We understand how important (Jimmy Howard) is for us. There’s not one guy in the room that doesn’t understand that, now he’s just got to get the net back.”

Gustavsson is 8-0-1 this season for the Wings.

He’s the first Wings goalie since Manny Legace (2000-01) to begin a season with points in his first nine straight starts.

Howard worked with goalie coach Jim Bedard and former Wings goalie Chris Osgood on Saturday.

“Frustration is a waste of time,” Babcock said. “Jimmy’s a guy who’s been through it. He’s been through it with Ozzie before, he played one whole winter if I remember correctly as we were getting Ozzie ready for ‘09 for the playoffs. He’s been through it on the other side and as a goalie it’s a fine line. You have to find a way to get hit and you have to find a way to get confident. You always find out way more about yourself during tough times, but that’s the same with everybody in any walk of life. When things are going great we’re all great people. It’s when it’s not going good it’s how we choose our attitude, how we choose our worth ethic, that makes you a good pro. Every good goalie in the National Hockey League has been through some ups and downs.”

Howard is 6-8-6 this season with a 2.70 goals-against average and a .909 save percentage.

“It’s good to have (Osgood) around,” Babcock said. “Ozzie’s been around Jimmy Bedard for a long time. He’s an outstanding goaltending coach. He’s got a good read on technically, but a better read on the game as far as the mental side of it goes. He’s done a great job with Ozzie, Hasek, Manny Legace and now he’s into Howard, Mrazek and Gustavsson.”


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