It’s easier to be an NHL goaltender when your team’s offense is clicking. That’s quite obvious. Jimmy Howard is finding out that as goalie for the struggling Detroit Red Wings, he’s being forced to virtually get a shutout every night if they’re to have a chance of winning.
That’s the best he could have done on Tuesday in his team’s 2-0 loss to the Nashville Predators. The Red Wings are 0-6-2 in their last eight games at home. They’re not exactly losing to NHL powerhouses either, considering the Predators, while certainly not a bad team, are 10-9-2. The Red Wings, at 9-6-7, just don’t appear to be a team anyone in the league has to fear right now.
Howard realizes this is a stiff test for the entire team. The frustration level is obviously high. Howard put in a strong game Tuesday night that was good enough for his team to win. After 17 games, Howard is 5-6-6 with a .911 save percentage and 2.64 goals against average. Howard is not playing poorly. No one is blaming the Red Wings’ recent woes on him. He’s supposed to focus on making saves and he did Tuesday.
His counterpart, Marek Mazanec, was making only his fifth NHL appearance and netted his first shutout. He picked the right team and the right time to do it against, considering how lame the Red Wings’ offense continues to be.
For Howard, the pressure is on. He needs to be an example for the rest of his teammates and keep his cool. The Red Wings’ offense just isn’t getting the job done right now, and the team needs to focus more on defense.