Jimmy Howard hasn’t exactly played lights out for the Red Wings in the second round, allowing four goals in each of three losses to the Sharks. Yet he’s far from the reason the Sharks are ahead in this series 3-0 and the Red Wings are going to stick with their goaltender even while facing elimination. From Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press:
“We’re only here because of Howie, don’t ever kid yourself,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Howie has been our goaltender. When we let him down, we don’t gas the team the next night, we just come and we play. And when he isn’t as good as we’d like him to be, we expect him to pick things up. Last series when he didn’t play well, he responded the next night. We expect the same here.”
The Red Wings have a history of goaltenders putting up much better numbers in the playoffs than they did in the regular season, yet this season Howard has been merely pedestrian with a 2.99 GAA and a .908 save percentage. While you couldn’t say that Howard has cost the Red Wings games (that’s the officials’ job) he has yet to truly steal a win for them either.
For any team hoping to make a long playoff run, that’s what they’d need; a couple of stolen victories at the hands of their goaltenders.