Quiet Osgood sure of his role

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DETROIT -- Chris Osgood doesn't like to talk about himself.

And he'll be the first to tell you that.

"I'm just a quiet guy. I don't like bragging about myself. Save that for another day," said the Detroit goaltender, who, if he keeps making all the saves, won't have a lot more days to wait this postseason.

In the Stanley Cup final, Osgood is giving the Penguins fits, having shut them out in Games 1 and 2 at Joe Louis Arena by scores of 4-0 and 3-0. The series shifts to Mellon Arena for Game 3 tonight.

Another shutout might sound nice, but Osgood just shrugged at the thought.

"You want to keep it going, but beyond that, that's it," he said. "I'm more concerned with winning, whether it's 4-3, whatever, I don't care as long as we win the game.

"All it means to me is that I'm just confident, and I'm going to try to do it for as long as I can. And that's what I'm trying to do right now. That's as simple as it gets for me."

A boyish 35, Osgood is in his second go-round with the franchise that drafted him in 1991 and won a Cup with him in '98, then effectively dumped him by placing him on waivers in September 2001. He was picked up by the New York Islanders, traded after two seasons to St. Louis and, two seasons later, he re-signed with Detroit as a free agent.

He said he always knew he would be back in Detroit. He takes a somewhat Zen approach to it all.

"I don't really think about the past too much," Osgood said. "I don't really look forward that much, either. I just play in the now and play in that particular game as it comes. And that's really the way I approach it. It's that simple. Maybe it comes with age.

"There will be time for that when I'm done playing and dwell on what I've done. I just simplify it. I clear my mind and play in the now. And that's all I do."

Well, not all, judging from the results.

During the regular season, he led the NHL with 2.09 goals-against average but started the playoffs as a backup to Dominik Hasek, who was third with 2.14 goals-against average. After four games, and with Nashville giving the Red Wings some problems, Osgood replaced Hasek.

Since then, Osgood has played every game and is No. 1 in the playoffs in goals-against average (1.38) and save percentage (.939) and is tied with the Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury in wins (12) and shutouts (three).

"We're confident with the way he's playing," defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom said.

For some goaltenders, playing behind a shutdown defense and with forwards who backcheck with relish might make for too much down time.

In Game 2 of the final, Osgood seemed to be the loneliest man on the ice.

The Penguins didn't register a shot until 12:01 of the first period, when Osgood stopped a slap shot by point man Sergei Gonchar during a power play. The Penguins got three shots during that man advantage and two more during another late in the period, including a stuff attempt by winger Gary Roberts.

It wasn't until 5:24 of the second period that the Penguins got their first even-strength shot, by defenseman Kris Letang from the point.

That amount of idle time did not hinder Osgood when the Penguins cracked things open a bit more to finish with 22 shots, including 10 in the third period.

"I don't need 40 shots to play the game or to feel good," he said. "I feel good regardless. I'm confident regardless. I play the game as it comes. Just win games. I'm not really into stats too much, just into winning."

The Penguins were talking about Osgood after Game 2, not to praise his play in his second consecutive shutout but to accuse him of diving to draw a penalty late in the third period when he got clipped by winger Petr Sykora -- a play that spawned a large scrum and resulted in five Penguins penalties, including two misconducts, and two Detroit infractions.

Osgood dismissed the thought, saying he was already looking ahead to Game 3.

If he and the defensive-minded Red Wings skaters can come close to shutting down the Penguins at Mellon Arena as well as they did at Joe Louis Arena, Osgood has a shot at a record for the Stanley Cup final.

Detroit's Terry Sawchuk held Montreal to two goals -- one each in the first two games, followed by two shutouts -- in a four-game sweep in 1952.



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