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Howard's ready, wants to face Preds

Babcock will make a goaltender-decision after morning skate

Thursday, 03.29.2012 / 3:52 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  -
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Howard\'s ready, wants to face Preds
Jimmy Howard says he's healthy again and ready to finish the final week of the regular-season. (Photo by Getty Images)
DETROIT Jimmy Howard said he’s healthy enough to return to work, but following Thursday’s hour-long practice, the Red Wings’ No. 1 goalie was no closer to knowing if he would play in Friday’s home game against the Nashville Predators.

“When am I going to play?” said Howard, repeating a reporter’s question. “I’m sure we’ll find out here in the next five-minutes when (coach Mike Babcock) comes and stands in front of you guys. … I would love to be out there tomorrow night, but if he has a different plan from what he said the other day, you know, I have to respect that.”

Babcock was less forthcoming, saying that he would first meet with goalie coach Jim Bedard before making a final decision on Friday’s starter.

“I don't know for sure,” Babcock said. “I'm a big believer in having a guy ready before he gets into a situation like this, so I'll talk to Jimmy B here today and we'll decide what's going on.”

Howard has missed the last four games after he relapsed from a strain groin that forced him to miss three games earlier this month. Since Howard returned from missing eight games with a fractured right index finger, the Wings are 4-9-2. In that time, Howard has won once – in a 6-0 shellacking of Minnesota on March 2.

Groin injuries, especially with a goalie, can flair up again, damaging the adductor muscles, which for goaltenders, who rely on hip and pelvis movement during games, can be problematic.

And it’s for that reason that the Wings are taking every precaution not to rush Howard back into the lineup before his groin is completely healed.
“I think they are being extra, extra, extra careful,” Babcock said. “I don't have anything to do with this. My big thing is, is he ready to play or not ready to play? So I'll talk to Jimmy B. I didn't even watch him today, I had lots of other things to watch. I'll talk to Jimmy B and we'll probably make a decision probably after the skate tomorrow morning.”

If Howard doesn’t play Friday, then Ty Conklin will get his fifth straight start in net, and Howard’s next start would be pushed back to Sunday when the Wings host the Florida Panthers.

“I’m very eager, I mean, I haven’t played a lot here in the last month and a half, and I’m sick and tired of watching them on TV, so I’m excited to get back out onto the ice,” Howard said.

Despite Wednesday night’s 4-2 loss at Columbus, Howard sees the fact that the majority of the team’s walking wounded have returned, or will be back in action before the start of the playoffs next month.

“It’s great, you know, we pretty much have our whole team back now, except for Helmer and Patty, so we have to get ready here for the playoffs,” Howard said. “We’ve just got to go out there and play our game and put in a full effort for the full 60-minutes and not what we displayed last night, so it’s going to be key for us in the next five games, just going out there and taking take of business and really compete for a full 60-minutes.”

In the final week of the regular-season, the Wings will face five playoff-contenders in Nashville, Florida, St. Louis, New Jersey and Chicago. Fortunately for the Wings they only have one road game remaining – next Wednesday against the Western Conference-leading Blues.

Playing on the road has been tedious for the Wings this season. It’s just the second time in 22 seasons that the Wings have posted a losing campaign on the road. The last time the Wings posted a losing road record was in 1998-99 when that squad finished 16-20-5.

The Wings are 16-21-3 on the road this season.

“Everyone already knows what happened, it wasn’t good enough and I think a lot of us in here felt embarrassed walking out of the rink,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “But tomorrow night is going to be a big game for us, right away after a tough loss for us last night. The way we played we’d obviously like to respond and play a lot better.”

Detroit is currently the No. 4 seed in the West with the Predators lurking one-point behind in the standings.

“They’ve always been very structured, but now it feels like they have even more fire-power up front than maybe in the past,” Kronwall said, of the Preds. “They’ve’ added some big pieces to their club, and they’ve been rolling all season long, and they’ve a very tough team to go up against, especially when they have (Pekka) Rinne back there, who can win games on his own for them.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80