Howard key in what success Red Wings have had this season

By Eric Ryan

Jimmy Howard recorded his second shutout in the past week for the Detroit Red Wings Friday night in a 3-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers.  The goose egg is Howards third this season, which is tied with Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick for the NHL lead.

More importanly for the Red Wings, it seems as if though they have found a steady hand on which they can rely on a nightly basis.

The Red Wings have been shockingly inconsistent this year.  Scoring has been hard to come by at times.  No one player has proven to be able to produce on a nightly basis.  The Wings’ defense has been unstable, the main concern being turnovers in their own zone.  Special teams have been so shotty early in the season that one has to wonder if the right players are on the ice during power plays and penalty kills.

Howard is the one exception to the Wings’ uncertainties.  He is second only to Nikolai Khabibulin in goals against average for goaltenders with at least ten games played.  He is also second to only the Bulin Wall in goals allowed and save percentage among goalies with the same criteria.

Howard has been knocking at the door of elite status for a few years.  If he keeps this pace to and through April, the Vezina Trophy might ring his doorbell.  If he slides off at all, the Wings might be trying to break into the back door to get into the playoffs.



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