The Detroit Red Wings are off to a great start on the road this season, as their 13-4-3 record away from Joe Louis Arena indicates. That record will be put to the test on Thursday night as they face a San Jose Sharks team that has won five consecutive home games and has only lost once in regulation at the SAP Center this season. One Red Wings player who will look to come through in a big way is goaltender Jimmy Howard, who had a rough go of things in the first half of the season and is 0-5-3 against the Sharks since December of 2010.
Howard is coming off one of his strongest performances of the season, which saw him make 44 saves in a 5-1 win over the Dallas Stars. His 7-9-8 record reflects how rough things have been this season, but since being named to the United States Olympic team following a shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic, he appears to have started to get his confidence back. He’ll have defenseman Danny DeKeyser back in the lineup in front of him on Thursday, and the Sharks will be without skilled forwards Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture. Even without those two, the Sharks are fifth in the league in goals per game, and have the 13th-best power play. The Red Wings can help Howard out by continuing their excellence on the penalty kill. They rank fifth in the league while shorthanded, and have killed off nine consecutive opponent power plays.
As Howard looks to turn the corner this year, there’s no better place to start than against a Sharks team that he has struggled against for three years. The Red Wings will need a stronger effort in the second half if they hope to remain in playoff contention, and this California road trip will go a long way to showing how they stack up against some of the best teams in the Western Conference.