It was a question posed in our Google Hangout here at Octopus Thrower, and it’s a question every single Red Wings fan should ask themselves:
Was Jimmy Howard‘s performance this year, both in the regular season and the playoffs, awesome or super awesome?
When his contract was extended in the middle of the season (6 years/$31.8 million), arguments arose as to whether the $5.3 million cap hit was too much for a goaltender. After all, Red Wings fans are used to paying a minimum amount for their goaltenders. This was a definite pay increase for Howard, having only made $2.25 million a year on his previous contract.
The fanbase argued over and over, each taking sides as to whether it was a good signing or not. Goalies of Howard’s caliber, putting up similar numbers, are getting anywhere from $5 million to $7 million.
Howard’s performance in the regular season up to the point of the contract extension was about normal for him, somewhere along the lines of a 2.30 GAA and a .905 SV% (rough guestimate, don’t kill me for being wrong). The second half of the season, and especially the last five games of the regular season was when Howard truly showed his worth. In those games, he only let in three goals. Three goals in five games. He was the big reason the team made it into the playoffs.
When it came to the playoff series, against the Anaheim Ducks, he was a little shaky, letting in three or more goals in five of seven games. But he kept the Ducks to just two goals in Game Seven to clinch the victory for the Red Wings.
Against the Chicago Blackhawks, however, he was one of the big reasons the Red Wings had a chance to win every single game of the series. In the seven games, he had a GAA of 1.71 and a save percentage of .938.
Those are numbers worthy of the contract extension he signed.
With his performance, even with the Red Wings blowing a 3-1 series lead, rest assured Howard put many of those “he’s not a playoff goalie” comments to rest. And that’s not even factoring in the fact that this team wasn’t supposed to make it past the first round.
So look back at the Chicago series, the tougher of the two, and try to tell me that Jimmy Howard was not awesome. Look back at the Anaheim series and try to tell me that Howard wasn’t the reason we hung on in tight games and won three of four in overtime. Look back at the end of the regular season and try to tell me that Howard wasn’t one of the bigger reasons this team managed to make it into the playoffs to keep our streak alive.
Jimmy Howard kept us in every single playoff game, save for perhaps Game One against Anaheim. While he may never win over the love of every single Red Wings fan , his performance this year will certainly sway many of the naysayers.