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Howard Pulled As Struggles Continue

Howard Pulled As Struggles Continue

Detroit’s Jimmy Howard hasn’t had the easiest of times since recovering from a groin injury.

Heading in to last night’s game against San Jose, the Syracuse native had given up 44 goals in 16 appearances since returning to the line up, posting a worrying .898 save percentage.

And things didn’t get any better for the 31-year old at The Joe Louis Arena, with the Sharks scoring 3 goals on 10 shots before Head Coach Mike Babcock pulled Howard at the first intermission.

Jimmy Howard in action for the Red Wings (David Hutchison photo)

Jimmy Howard in action for the Red Wings (Photo: David Hutchison)

The slumping Wings, 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, now face a difficult choice as the regular season enters the home stretch – stick with Howard? Or give Petr Mrazek the ball?

Howard gave up 5 goals on 22 shots Tuesday night, as the Wings lost in overtime to basement dwellers Arizona, with Babcock lamenting his #1 netminders performance when speaking to The Detroit News:

“We gave up too many goals any way you look at it,” Babcock said. “The puck can’t go in your net five times and you expect to win in the NHL. Not good enough.”

Howard is acutely aware of his recent dip in form, telling MLive.com he’d ““had spurts here coming back from the injury but I’ve got to find that consistency again.”

Babcock was in a more reflective mood prior to face-off yesterday, insisting Howard was “our starting goalie until he’s not our starting goalie,” while talking to reporters, adding:

“You know, I’ve been here a long time. I’ve had lots of goalies. We’ve had lots of goalies struggle. But your guy normally is your guy, and if he isn’t your guy, you find another way to go. Bottom line is he played two good games, couldn’t keep it out of our net the last game. Gets an opportunity to go here again today.”

Source: Detroit Free Press

Howard made 23 saves to help secure a 2-1 overtime victory against St Louis last weekend; but after seeing the Red Wings lose 6-4 to the struggling Sharks, many are wondering whether Petr Mrazek will see more action during the clubs remaining regular season games.

The 23-year old Czech has 14 wins and a solid .914 save percentage in 22 appearances this season, taking advantage of the opportunity presented by Jonas Gustavsson’s absence.

The Ostrava native is viewed by many as the Wings long term future in net, and may get his opportunity on Saturday when Detroit visit Tampa Bay, before hosting the surging Senator at ‘The Joe’ on Tuesday.

Saturday could be seen as a pivotal match up for the two clubs, with Detroit currently slated to face the Lightning in the first round of the play-offs, and the next 7 days may go a long way to determining who starts for the Wings in game 1.

About The Author

Rob McGregor

A member of the InGoal Magazine family since 2014, Rob is also Media Manager for the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) in the UK and a former goaltender in Great Britain's third tier National League (NIHL).

2 Comments

  1. Colin Hodd

    It’s probably not a new trend, but I am always surprised to see stable number one goaltenders questioned the second they have a poor stretch of play. I suppose it generates interest in the media, but people are very eager to declare backups with little experience as “the future” of an organization when the sample size for their play is so small. Coming out of the lockout in 2005-06 there was a lot of talk about “the future” of goaltending in the NHL being about platoon systems and 1A-1B scenarios. That was a system you’ve seen off and on for decades since backup goaltenders became a thing. Ultimately both ways of using the goaltenders on your team are legitimate, but I am not sure when we’ve seen a platoon system work deep into playoffs, or to win a Stanley Cup. A goalie with a proven record at the NHL level can have bad stretches, but it gets a little overblown when the second he stumbles the talk is around whether he should be replaced by the cheaper backup.

  2. Paul Campbell

    I couldn’t agree more, Colin. Talbot is playing well for NYR, and people have already starting to call him the future (if not the present). But an all-world guy like Lundqvist has been, and will continue to be, consistently excellent. This is the real accomplishment, and the only way to deserve a big contract with term.