In Jimmy Howard‘s five NHL seasons in net, he has had two rough years – not a great stat seeing as how he has a cap hit of $5,291,667 over the next five years -, but last season was by far his worst. It was not his worst statistical season, but it was not far off either.
Jimmy Howard put up impressive numbers during his first NHL season before sliding down to reality in his sophomore year – something that usually happens to players and goaltenders -, but despite his goals against average and save percentage taking a major hit, he was still able to pick up thirty-seven wins for the Detroit Red Wings.
In his third and fourth seasons, Howard was able to regain his strong play in net and his GGA and SV% nearly matched the stats from his rookie season, but once again he took a turn for the worse during the 2013-14 NHL season.
Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News said these factors contributed to his poor season.
There were injuries, a slump, the question of whether he was going to be an Olympian (he was). All contributed to Howard’s sub-par season.
Injuries were a main factor for why Howard had a poor season. Between his upper body issue – hand injury – and his knee problems last year, he was out of the line-up for long stretches of time, which caused his to be a bit rusty when he rejoined the line-up and was thrown to the wolves.
Kulfan did not mention that Jimmy Howard missed games twice do to illness, as well. Howard missed a game in March with an illness and games four and five during the first rounds series loss to the Boston Bruins.
It was not a major factor, but it could have impacted Howard’s abilities during the time he was ill.
I do not believe the “Olympic distraction” was a factor that led to poor performances by Jimmy Howard because he usually thrives under the pressure and that pressure would have caused him to play better and not worse.
And lastly a slump is what Howard went through, it was not a contributor to a bad season because a slump is a bad season.
So how will Jimmy Howard turn things around for next season?
Staying healthy will be a major concern for Howard moving forward. His knee acted up on him a few times last season, but having a full off-season of rehab should help mitigate those problems, if not completely heal the knee with rest and rehab.
Unfortunately, not much can be done about illness and despite being sick at times, he would probably prefer to be in the net regardless of whether or not the illness is affecting his ability to play.
Last but not least, the will be plenty of competition for Jimmy Howard next year. Over the past two seasons, Petr Mrazek has proven he can play and play well in the NHL and the Detroit Red Wings brought back Jonas Gustavsson, who played exceptionally well last season for Detroit and put up some of his best NHL numbers.
Jimmy Howard will have to work hard to stay at the front of the pecking order and use the competition for his job as fuel to get better day in and day out – something Howard has never had a problem doing before -.
Jimmy Howard has all the of abilities needed in a top ten or top five goaltender and if he can rebound after last years season, then the Detroit Red Wings will be better off in the short run and long run.