Detroit Red Wings
Clear Bag Policy 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

  • RSS

Wings' Howard puts last season behind him

Monday, 09.23.2013 / 1:25 PM ET / News
Share with your Friends

Wings\' Howard puts last season behind him

Considering how long and grinding an NHL season can be, it's jarring when it ends in an instant.

The Red Wings know this well, after Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook scored in overtime of Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals to end the Red Wings' season. It was a particularly bitter sting considering the Wings had the Presidents' Trophy winners on the ropes after taking a 3-1 series lead.

Some players might replay the final goal in their head all summer wondering what could have been after such a rough postseason exit, but Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard is not among them.

"Not at all," Howard told last week. "Hockey is a game of breaks and momentum shifts and a game where something like that happens. It can be totally out of your control and the puck will roll in the net. It's just one of those things where it's frustrating and it's disappointing, but at the same time it's nobody's fault. You learn from it and you move on.

"The stars were aligned for Chicago that night."

While it's a knee-jerk reaction to assign blame for the goal that eliminated Detroit -- some pundits questioned the defensive positioning of Niklas Kronwall, who screened Howard on Seabrook's goal -- it's awfully tough to make Howard the scapegoat for the Red Wings' current five-season championship drought. He's been stellar since becoming the starting goalie during the 2009-10 season, boasting a 130-62-26 record, a 2.35 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in that span. In the past two seasons Howard's GAA dipped to 2.13, while in 2012-13 no goalie in the League bested his five regular-season shutouts.

In the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, Howard backstopped Detroit to a seven-game first-round upset of the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks, with three of the Wings' four wins coming in overtime. Against Chicago, Howard held the second-highest scoring team in the regular season to 16 goals in seven games, including a bravura performance in Games 2, 3 and 4, when he allowed just two goals on 88 shots. Even in Detroit's Game 7 loss, Howard might have been the best player on the ice, making 33 saves on 35 shots.

That kind of performance out of a goaltender, particularly a 29-year-old in his prime, was not lost on the front office in Detroit, a franchise that has won four Stanley Cups since 1997 with three different goalies without signing any to long-term contracts. That won't be the case with Howard, whom the Red Wings signed to a six-year, $31.8 million contract extension this offseason.

"It gives me a lot of confidence that (Wings coach Mike Babcock) and (general manager Ken Holland) and all of management have a lot of confidence in me to get the job done," Howard said. "By them offering me that contract, it was a no-brainer to sign it and to be able to stay in Detroit where it's such a great organization. From top to bottom it's run first-class."

Barring the unexpected, Howard will have been Detroit's starting goalie for a decade by the time his contract ends, providing the Red Wings with the kind of stability in net they haven't had since Terry Sawchuk wore the Winged Wheel. That should be a tremendous boon for the Wings as they balance an influx of young defensemen with Detroit's year-in, year-out Stanley Cup expectations.

Howard, for one, expects some of the team's younger players to have different mindsets after last-season's unexpected playoff run.

"They got to play in two Game 7 situations in two very hostile arenas," Howard said. "I think everyone was writing us off in both series to lose out, and I think it surprised even ourselves that we got to be up 3-1 [in the series] on Chicago. … I think that's part of the maturation process, becoming a better player and a better athlete. You learn in those situations that failure isn't an option. You just think about winning."

Convinced as he might be that Detroit's defense will be improved in the second season of the post-Niklas Lidstrom era, Howard's new contract makes it clear management expects him to be the team's rock. His continued improvement and his play in the 2013 playoffs certainly justifies those expectations, and this season he may find himself under more pressure than normal considering the Red Wings are experiencing transitions on several fronts.

In addition to the relative youth of its defense, Detroit also shook up its forwards, signing big-ticket items Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson off the free-agent market. Also, realignment has moved the team to the Eastern Conference, a change that is welcome but nonetheless will require some adaptation. After years of learning the systems of teams like Chicago or the St. Louis Blues, the Wings will have a whole new slate of foes in the Atlantic Division, something Howard admits will be a challenge in the season's early months. All the changes have given him plenty to think about heading into the start of the regular season, Oct. 2 against the Buffalo Sabres.

But one thing Howard won't be thinking about is the Game 7 goal against the Blackhawks.

"After that, I just flushed it out," Howard said. "This is a new season. This is a new start. We're moving to the Eastern Conference now so it's going to be a bit of a transition for us here at first. What's done is done and you've just got to move on."

Howard's focus on the season should be just what the Red Wings' front office wants to hear after committing to him through the 2018-19 season. After all, Wings fans don't want another banner to go up -- they expect it.

Those are the demands any goalie has to be ready for when he signs up to play in Detroit. But having spent 10 years in the Red Wings organization (he was a 2003 second-round pick), not only is that nothing new for Howard, it's just how he wants it.

"Every year it's the Stanley Cup or bust," he said. "That's the expectation of playing in Hockeytown.

"And that's the way it should be."




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
© NHL 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Advertise/SponsorshipsOlympia Entertainment | Code of Conduct | Privacy Policy | AdChoices | Employment | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Site Map