Red Wings' Conklin struggling to give Howard a break

By Eric Ryan

The somewhat common practice in the NHL of starting a back-up goaltender when playing on consecutive nights could seriously hurt the Detroit Red Wings this season. The Wings have already played on back-to-back days twice this year and will do so twelve more times this season. In both instances this season, head coach Mike Babcock has turned to Ty Conklin to relieve starting goalie Jimmy Howard on the second night. The results were shockingly different. Conklin shut out Colorado on October 8th, then was shelled by Washington on Saturday night, giving up seven goals on 25 shots.
Sure, the starter needs a break now and then. But is it too much to ask for the starter to suit up on consecutive nights when the Wings had a six-day break before those two games? Not to mention, it would have been nice to have seen Howard in net for the match-up of the two best teams in the league.
However, what’s in the past is history. The beautiful thing about history is the opportunity to learn from it. Howard needs to start when the Wings play on consecutive days. Yes, both games. Mainly, because the drop off is too immense to compensate for with stronger defense, clearing the zone more frequently, etc. Conklin has a great opportunity to shake the abysmal Washington game tomorrow night at Columbus due to Howard and his wife celebrating the birth of their son.
Howard being on the bench for twelve more games this year puts the team in a compromising position for those twelve games. Could those games keep the Wings out of the play-offs? Not hardly. But it could be the difference between winning or losing the division or even a President’s Trophy.

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