Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard is back to his old inconsistent ways of looking like the best netminder in the NHL one night and the worst one in the league the next. If he doesn’t snap out of it, his team could be in for a long season.
It’s obviously just October, and Howard still has plenty of time to settle down and start playing the type of impressive hockey he has in the past. But the Wings can’t afford for him to take his time in getting there.
The last five days, Howard has developed an unfortunate trend that was reminiscent of his days in the early part of his NHL career. He blocked 28-of-32 shots from the Phoenix Coyotes in a loss, stopped 27-of-27 shots from the San Jose Sharks two days later in an overtime battle and allows 3-of-8 shots to enter the net Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators in a loss. Detroit coach Mike Babcock had enough of Howard after 14.5 minutes of action and pulled him in the first period.
In fairness to Howard, he’s dealt with some injuries and that can take its toll on a goalie at anytime during such a long season.
But in fairness to the Red Wings, Howard will need to show sooner than later that he’s in control in front of the net and he’s going to to play well enough to give the Red Wings a shot at being legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.
If not, Howard is going to have to return to the status he had early in his career: Backup goaltender.