Shortly after Detroit was ousted by San Jose, the team that seems to have our proverbial number for a reason that escapes me, I wrote a rather lengthy analysis of our performance during last seasons playoffs. In it, I claimed that Jimmy Howard, was without question, the emergent star of the postseason. It should have been very clear to all who watched, that Howard was the main reason that our series against the Sharks, who have acquired a taste for Wing blood, was not over in four games. He delivered not just a steady performance, but a brilliant one as well. It was simply an unfortunate turn of events that the rest of the team waited until game 4 to raise their own standards of play to match Howard’s level. I believe in Jimmy Howard. It took me longer than I would have liked to reach this confidence in our fine, American born goalie, but I am there nonetheless. What is even more important, and exciting, is that Howard believes in himself.
Our master general manager, Ken Holland, said of Howard: “We knew during the middle of the season, that we had a goalie”. Modest as always. The rest of us can translate that to mean that Howard is a potential superstar goalie. This is truly fantastic news. Detroit has had a bit of a fluctuating history when it comes to goaltenders. I have no idea what Tim Cheveldae is doing these days, but I’ll wager whatever it is, it is not in Michigan. Mike Vernon won a Conn Smythe Trophy when he carried our team to the 1997 Cup Championship, only to be shipped during the off-season. Chris Osgood could largely be counted on to be unreliable. I was very impressed with The Dominators brief stay between the pipes for the Wings. Not so much with Curtis Joseph’s. So it seems we have something in Howard that we have had not had in a very long time. A homegrown goalie, seasoned in the college and minor ranks, who has been eased into the lineup since his draft year, and has now delivered on the great promise that was attached to him from day one.
It is true, that many goaltenders have had remarkable seasons, that were then followed repeatedly with sieve-like play. Jose Theodore comes to mind, and Roberto Luongo could be headed down that road as well. Will Howard be a shooting star, or a constant one? Only time will tell. But following his stellar playoff performance, and having our defense corps bolstered with the additions of Ian White and Mike Commodore, I expect Howard to have an even more impressive season than last year. A healthy confidence and belief in oneself seems to me to be a prerequisite to accomplish anything of note. Howard seems believe in himself, and I do as well.
An afterthought: This save below on Setoguchi was one of best, and biggest in recent Red Wings History.