Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Keeping Jimmy Howard's season in proper perspective

The Red Wings have surged lately, winning seven games in a row and vaulting into the top spot in the Western Conference. Goalie Jimmy Howard has been spectacular. He deserves his place in the All-Star game, may very well be the first-team All-Star goalie at the end of the season and win the Veznia Trophy. He leads the NHL in wins and has improved his numbers remarkably in most major goaltending categories to rank among the NHL leaders.
His goals against average (GAA) is down nearly a goal from 2.79 to 1.95 compared to last season. His save percentage is up to .926 from .908.
But Howard's improvement to this point has been at home. Last season, he was 18-12-3 with a 2.88 GAA at home. This season, he is 20-2-1 with a sparkling 1.59 GAA at Joe Louis Arena.
On the road, Howard hasn't made the same improvement. He is 10-8-2 with a 2.42 GAA. Last season, he was 19-5-2 away with a 2.67 GAA.
Since getting drilled at the end of long trip by the New York Islanders, 5-1, the Red Wings have won their seven in a row. Five of those wins were at home. The two road victories were won in a shootout, one with Ty Conklin in net.
A test for Howard to just the degree of brilliance he is displaying this season, will come in the next five games. They are on the road, mostly against struggling teams - Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Phoenix (only Vancouver would make the playoffs if the season ended today). Howard should do well in that span, correcting the current statistical imbalance of his season. If he doesn't, maybe his season isn't as brilliant as is currently being advertised.


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