Detroit Red Wings
RedWingsSeasonTickets.com Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App
 

 
  • PRINT
  • RSS

Howard a hard-luck loser for Wings

Goalie was awesome behind young defense, made Red Wings a Cup contender

Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 11:34 AM ET / News
NHL.com
X
Share with your Friends


Howard a hard-luck loser for Wings
Jimmy Howard and former teammate Marian Hossa met at center ice after the Red Wings' 2-1 overtime loss on Wednesday. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

CHICAGO -- When Brent Seabrook's shot reached the back of the net behind him, Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard skated over to defenseman Niklas Kronwall.

The puck had gone off of Kronwall and fluttered just enough to beat Howard, and the goalie sympathized with the pain his teammate felt as the Wings were bounced from the Stanley Cup playoffs on Wednesday night in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals at United Center.

"It's tough. How can you get upset at someone who is sacrificing their body out there, blocking shots?" Howard said. [Kronwall] has been huge for us all year and you know, he doesn't deserve that luck."

The same could be said for Howard.

Detroit's goaltender was fabulous in this series, a huge reason why the seventh-seeded Red Wings surged to a surprising 3-1 lead in the series and maybe the only reason the Blackhawks didn't embarrass the Red Wings in Game 1 or cruise to an easy win in Game 7.

He made 33 saves in Game 7 on Wednesday, including 23 in the first 40 minutes while the Blackhawks carried the play for long stretches.

"[Howard] has been so good for us, not only last year, this year," Kronwall said. "I don't think I've ever seen him this good. Unfortunately we weren't able to get the win for him."

Howard has been the team's starting goaltender since Chris Osgood retired after the team's second consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup finals in 2009. The numbers before this season -- three straight years with 35-plus wins, two of the three with a .920 or better save percentage -- have always been solid, but Howard rarely received credit for the team's success.

With Nicklas Lidstrom in retirement and Brad Stuart in San Jose, this season was a new challenge for Howard and the Red Wings. His 2.13 goals-against average matched a career high, and his .923 save percentage just missed matching his rookie season.

"Jimmy's a great goalie. Sometimes he gets overlooked playing in Detroit, but he's been our MVP -- him and Hank [Zetterberg]," veteran forward Daniel Cleary said. "I've always believed you don't go anywhere without a great goalie. He played great for us, gave us a chance to win. OT in Game 7 - what are you going to do?"

What he's accomplished with a much younger defense corps in front of him has been impressive. His play in this series against the ultra-talented Blackhawks was that of a goaltender who deserves to be considered among the league's elite.

"I think [Howard], it is just like [Corey] Crawford, it takes you a while to establish yourself and be as consistent as you want to be," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "I think [Howard] gave us a chance each and every night in the playoffs. I think any goaltender this year at the start when you didn't have training camp, it was hard to be consistent.

"[Howard] is one of those guys, what I liked about him is he signed the big contract during the year and it didn't faze him one bit. He's just an everyday-er. He really competes hard and he's determined and he likes winning."

The defense will mature, and some of the young forwards the Red Wings will move into bigger roles. There are more talented kids on the way up front as well. Detroit general manager Ken Holland will have some salary cap space to work with.

If this was a "rebuilding" year in Detroit, it is clear the Red Wings will be back among the teams considered Stanley Cup contenders soon. They weren't for much of this season, but Howard nearly made them one.

There are no problems in net for the Red Wings. Howard has become a top goaltender and a leader for the team.

Just ask one of the other leaders on the team.

"That says a lot about him as a person," Kronwall said of Howard's gesture after the goal. "Everybody wants to win in here, you don't make a mistake on purpose. But it's hard. Obviously, you don't want to be in that spot. Unfortunately, it went off me and went in and we're going home.

"I wish we could have won that series for [Howard]. He really deserved it."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
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

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
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
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80