James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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The Word on Howard

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Again, it’s not that the market wouldn’t hand Howard at least $5.3 million per year, it’s that the Red Wings gave away their flexibility and now must hold their breath that a franchise guy doesn’t turn into a dud.

At 29, there’s an argument that Howard’s prime years are waning, but goalies seem to age pretty well. At least compared to skaters.

The real problem is that goalies are an unpredictable breed. One year’s Vezina Trophy winner could be next year’s albatross contract in leg pads.

Still, how good is Howard, really? Let’s look at his save percentage numbers from the four seasons where he was given heavy starts.

2013 season: 36 games played, .933 even strength, .895 PK, .920 overall

2011-12: 57 GP, .929 even strength, .85 PK, .920 overall

2010-11: 63 GP, .916 even strength, .884 PK, .908 overall

2009-10: 61 GP, .925 even strength, .980 PK, .924 overall

When you break things down, the numbers tell you what Red Wings fans have probably noticed: he’s been good to very good for almost all of his NHL career ... but he’s really jumped a level in the last two seasons. This one, in particular, has featured strong work.

Is he elite? I’m not sure, but he’s close enough that the Red Wings are making a smarter gamble than most (*cough* It’s not like they overpaid Ondrej Pavelec. *cough cough*).

So, while I’ve rattled on about how much of a bummer it is that Detroit allowed the Joneses to catch up to them, the Red Wings at least invested in a guy who’s been a steal - and stealing an admirable amount of pucks - for years.

If you HAVE to pay a goalie big, they made a respectable choice. I just happen to think that when it comes to netminders, the path less taken might just be the right one.


The Bruins-Senators game was moved to April 28, which means it’s likely that it won’t matter for fantasy reasons. (At least I’m guessing it won’t.) Interestingly, the NBA decided to cancel a Celtics game altogether because of the tragedies ... Joffrey Lupul returned to action on Tuesday. He might take a game or two to get up to speed, but he’s worth starting/nabbing ... Ilya Kovalchuk is expected to practice on Wednesday, so stay tuned for what could be a big update (one way or another) ... Jeff Skinner left last night’s game and didn’t return after a hit by Jared Cowen, who returned from a lengthy bout with injuries himself. Hard not to worry about Skinner considering his concussion history, but not much of an update yet ... Can’t say I expected this, but Patrice Bergeron is “highly probable” to play tonight. Not sure that’s the best move, although the Northeast Division IS still up for grabs ... Evgeni Malkin’s status seems mysterious. Maybe it’s more than a sunburn on his shoulder, after all ... I’d be surprised if you had T.J. Oshie in the first place, but if so, drop him; he had ankle surgery that leaves him week-to-week ... You might be TOO shocked by an NHL Network info bit that reveals Alex Ovechkin’s 16 goals in 18 games since March 17, but guess who’s in second? Teammate Mike Green, who’s scored eight in 14 during that same period.

James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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