BY SAMANTHA ELLIOTT
UPDATE (Feb 19, 2012): Red Wings win 23 consecutive home games in a row, setting a new NHL record. Final Score: Sharks 2 – Wings 3
When I first heard the news that Red Wings’ starting goal tender Jimmy Howard was out for a few weeks with a broken finger, I instantly went into panic mode. The Wings hadn’t lost a game at home since November 8, 2011. They were well on their way to breaking the longest home winning streak in the NHL, set by the 1929-1930 Boston Bruins and the 1975-1976 Philadelphia Flyers.
We still had Ty Conklin, I told myself. Our backup goalie who had helped us secure a playoff spot a few years back and was now back on our bench. We would be fine. He would guide us through a few weeks worth of games and we would be well on our way to the playoffs. But when the team had a rough five game West coast trip, returning home with only 2 wins, I became nervous.
Conklin, who I was really excited about when I first heard the news of him returning, was disappointing me. Definitely not performing to Red Wings standards. When Joey MacDonald was brought up form Grand Rapids as the new replacement for Howard, I was on the fence. I knew Conklin had to go but was nervous for MacDonald having not had as much NHL experience. The pressure to break an NHL record looming over his head made me fear for small mistakes that would cost a home win.
However, after watching MacDonald’s past few games, I’m amazingly impressed. He’s definitely pulling his weight for the team and making some unbelievable saves to prove he’s worth it. His .926 save percentage is even higher than Howard’s before his injury.
MacDonald’s quickly gaining fans around Hockeytown, even finding one in Head Coach Mike Babcock.
“I thought his game tonight was the best,” Babcock said after MacDonald’s win against Anaheim. “We haven’t needed him like we did tonight. But I thought today he was big and square and out and confident. He looked like a real goaltender for us. So that’s a real positive for us.”
It’s an exciting time for both the Wings and MacDonald. After matching history, it’s not time to make history. And the Wings are a team that is all about making history. Keep it up MacDonald. You’ve got Hockeytown behind you.