Detroit Red Wings’ Calvin Pickard gets rewarded for dedication with victory in first start
Detroit – NHL teams have three goalkeepers this season because of the pandemic, and it’s not an easy position.
You rarely play, you practice a lot, and it is not easy to stay sharp.
Calvin Pickard has been in that role for the Red Wings for most of this season, and he was rewarded for his efforts on Saturday.
Pickard stopped 21 shots and helped the Wings stop a three-game loss with a 3-1 win over Columbus.
If you watched the wings on the ice afterward, you couldn’t tell who was happier – Pickard (whose last NHL win was in 2018 as the Philadelphia Flyer) or his teammates.
“Our boys really like him,” said Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill.
The 28-year-old Pickard was playing in Austria (Vienna’s capitals) in the fall as the NHL continued to be ravaged by the pandemic.
Pickard returned to the Wings in January and spent most of the season in the cab. Pickard had a start March 17 in Grand Rapids and relieved Thomas Greiss in the first period Thursday in Nashville.
That was it until the start on Saturday.
“Just be ready,” Pickard said of his mindset. “I’ve played games in this league, there have been few in the last few years, but I know what I’m capable of and I know I can step in and give these guys a good start.”
“I’m grateful that our team flew today and made it a lot easier for me.”
Pickard didn’t want to rethink the Saturday when he got his first start.
“Just go in there and do your thing and try not to think too much and drop the chips where they like,” Pickard said. “In our first phase (the Wings Outshot Columbus (16-5) I got a couple of shots, but I got my feet under me.”
It’s been a different kind of season for Pickard, but he’s excited about the opportunity he has.
“It’s never easy, obviously you’re a competitor and you want to play,” said Pickard. “Each team has three goalkeepers this season. I should be in that role and it’s a good group to be here. There are always opportunities all year round when the third player is going to play so you have to be ready for it .
“It’s never easy not to play, but you stay as sharp as you can.”
Blashill felt it was a huge benefit that Pickard went to Europe to play, and Pickard took on the role as well as expected.
“He went to Europe and that allowed him to play games,” said Blashill. “That was a great decision for him. He had to leave his family and go over and play and that’s a commitment. I’m glad he got a game at Grand Rapids.
“The inner drive and work ethic he has shown over the past few months when he hasn’t played to make sure he gets the extra work of 45 minute sessions on top of the training that might be taking place is days that he was on the ice for three hours or more.
“That’s the level of commitment you need to have. You have to stay as sharp as you can and often it doesn’t look like you get the chance and some people don’t stay that sharp. You down.
“He didn’t do that, made sure he was ready, and did a good job.”
Adam Erne opened Saturday’s Wings, his sixth goal, and has now tripled his total from the 2019-20 season, while doubling his score (10 points) from last season in just 27 games.
… Robby Fabbri became the first Red Wing to score double-digit goals (10) while continuing to lead Detroit on goals per game (0.38) and points per game (0.65). Fabbri also scored his fourth winning goal in the team’s last eight games and has scored the best eight winning goals since joining the team in November 2019.
… Erne and Fabbri’s goals were scored 29 seconds apart and marked the Wings’ fastest goals in a row this season.
Blue jackets at Red Wings
Allusion: Sunday 3 p.m., Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
TV / radio: FSD / 97.1
Outlook: The Red Wings (11-20-4) and Blue Jackets (13-14-8) complete a series at LCA. … The Wings are 2-2-0 against Columbus this season, three games later this season all in Columbus.