When the 2013-14 NHL season began, Jimmy Howard was one of the frontrunners to join Team USA for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Now that the season is a third of the way over, Howard’s numbers aren’t great and he has struggled mightily in November. His poor start and the solid play of Ryan Miller for the lowly Buffalo Sabres could find the Detroit Red Wings netminder on the outside looking in when rosters are announced in January.
Howard has not recorded a win in his last seven starts (0-3-4) and is 5-7-6 on the season. His goals-against average (2.72) and save percentage (.908) are respectable, but nowhere near his numbers from last season (2.13 GAA and .923 save percentage). He earned an invitation to development camp based on last season and a strong postseason, but has watched his stock fall since. Miller, who led the U.S. to a silver medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, may be 4-14-0 this season but a .919 save percentage shows that his record is more a result of the team in front of him than his own talent. Projected starter Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings is currently injured, but is still expected to be ready by February. Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils is also in the mix, and while he hasn’t seen a ton of action he has a 1.87 goals-against average in 10 appearances this season. There’s also dark horse candidate Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who is 14-3-1 but who could see lack of international experience keep him off the team.
Howard certainly hasn’t gotten much help from his teammates, as the Red Wings currently rank 20th in the league in goals per game. He still has time to impress Team USA management in the next month, but it is safe to say that his rough start to the season has put him on the bubble at this point.