There are absolute positives and negatives about being the starting goaltender for the Detroit Red Wings. Red Wings’ goalies generally are given all the resources in the world to success, but with those resources comes incredibly lofty expectations. Goaltenders in Hockeytown are judged on Stanley Cups, and little else. Jimmy Howard seems to be finding this out the hard way.
Jimmy Howard took over the Red Wings’ goaltender gig going into the 2009-2010 season, and things didn’t exactly get off to a great start. The Red Wings’ got off to a terrible start that season, and Howard shouldered some of that blame. They were able to right the ship and win a round in the playoffs, but it wasn’t exactly the inspiring start to the young goaltender’s career that Red Wings’ fans were looking for. Howard actually had a better season that he was given credit for. He came into that year having played only nine previous NHL games, and ended that season with better stats than most people think. He was 4th in the NHL in goals against average that season (minimum 40 games) and was remarkably consistent between the pipes. Rookie seasons don’t get a lot better than that, but championship-less seasons aren’t acceptable in Hockeytown.
In terms of wins, Howard has been the most successful goaltender in the NHL over the last two seasons, but early playoff exits at the hands of the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators have been the undoing of this squad. Howard has been known to hit the injury bug, and the combination of these factors has been his undoing to this point.
It may simply be a case of poor timing for Howard. Young goaltenders often benefit from young rosters, or a team ready to win championships. The Red Wings appear to be neither at this point. Jimmy Howard has proven over the last, and only, three seasons that he is a world class goaltender, and should be treated as such.
It has been a while, outside of maybe Chris Osgood, that the Red Wings have had a franchise-type goaltender in their prime. They have exactly that with Mr. Howard, and things certainly seem to be going in the right direction for him.