Conklin's off to another fast start
For third straight year, backup earns opening-week shutout
The veteran backup goaltender was brilliant in leading the Red Wings to a 3-0 victory at Colorado Saturday night. However, it was the third straight year that Conklin has pitched a shutout – all on the road – in the opening week of the season.
“I think anybody can have good starts, fast starts,” said Conklin, who made 29 saves Saturday. “But with this team you have opportunities to have these types of games a little more often than some places.
“It’s not to say that you don’t have to make saves and you don’t have to work hard to get wins. This team prides itself defensively. And it shows up in goalies’ stats a lots of times. It shows up in the amount of wins that you have, and it shows up in goals-against and it can show up in shutouts, too.”
For Conklin, who is in his ninth NHL season and second stint as a member of the Wings’ franchise, Saturday’s shutout was the 17th of his career, and the seventh for the Wings. He posted a single-season best six shutouts for Detroit in 2008-09.
Conklin toiled in St. Louis for the past two seasons with an 18-18-6 record and six shutouts. But two of his shutouts came in his second starts of the season. Last year he blanked the New York Rangers, and the year before he turned away 26 shots in a 5-0 shutout at Anaheim.
“With most goalies, they’re going to go through 10-12 games where they play really, really well,” Conklin said. “Just like teams where everything that you shoot goes in, and then there’s going to be stretches where it becomes harder. That’s just the way it goes. That’s just hockey. The biggest thing is extending those good streaks as long as you can and making hay when the sun is shining.”
Conklin had several such winning streaks in his first stint with the Wings when he was the backup to Chris Osgood. Now that Conklin is playing behind starter Jimmy Howard, he knows that manufacturing successful streaks can be easier said than done, especially in a backup capacity.
“It’s a role that I’ve fulfilled for most of my career,” Conklin said. “I’ve gotten used to it. Everybody wants to play, but there’s only one net. I think what a backup goalie strives for is that there’s not a big drop-off from when he plays. He’s fresh and he should be excited every time he’s playing.”
Another benefit to a backup goalie is that he gets tested early in a game, which Conklin certainly was when the Avalanche fired 11 first-period shots in his direction Saturday.
“I think one of the biggest differences for a backup, in the first 5-10 minutes of the game, usually it’s pretty quick,” he said. “It helped to get shots early in.”
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