The Detroit Red Wings suffered one of their biggest setbacks of the 2013-14 season on Monday, when starting goaltender Jimmy Howard was unable to play due to a hand injury. Backup Jonas Gustavsson, recently returned from injured reserve, found out he would be playing only 15 minutes before the contest but turned in one of his best performances while wearing the winged wheel and was able to help his team get past the Boston Bruins. Gustavsson was back in net on Tuesday, and stood tall against the Columbus Blue Jackets for a second-straight win. There is no update on how long Howard will be out, but Gustavsson suddenly looks like the goaltender the Wings were hoping to get when they signed him in the summer of 2012.
In two starts, Gustavsson now boasts a 1.50 goals-against average and .955 save percentage. Injuries limited him to only seven appearances last season, and he posted a 2.92 goals-against in that limited action while winning two games. He won 39 games over three seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Detroit signed him as a backup to Howard who they hoped would be able to play up to 20 games a season if needed. Howard played in 42 of 48 games last season, but how long he can keep up that kind of workload while battling occasional injuries is a big question moving forward. The Red Wings’ offense has started to click, and if they continue their strong work on the penalty kill it may not matter who is in net. After his two strongest games as a Red Wing, confidence in Gustavsson is at an all-time high especially after some big saves in the final minutes of the win over the Blue Jackets.