Jimmy Howard key in Game Two of the Western Conference Semi Finals


He has been named the prospect of the future, the giant that could never be an NHL caliber starting goaltender. Coming into this season, Red Wings fans even questioned his ability to be the backup goaltender that Ty Conklin was. He has heard it all as a member of the Detroit Red Wings. Halfway through the season, he was donned the solidified goalie of the future. Entering the playoffs, I can nearly guarantee that Jimmy Howard had no idea the pressure that lies in being the starting goaltender in the playoffs for a team that has made it to the post-season for nineteen consecutive seasons.

Now, he is feeling the peak of it. Game two of the Western Conference Semifinals at the HP Pavilion could be the defining moment of Howard’s young career.

There’s no doubt that head coach Mike Babcock believes he can handle the pressure. Howard has seen more ice time than any other goalie in the playoffs. With the series on the line against Phoenix, Howard was the man in the net. The 251 shots against him is the third highest amount of the playoffs to this point. He has had his downs (Game Three against Pheonix). He has shut out the opposing offense.  There have been times he has made rookie mistakes and let five hole goals go through that might have been stopped by any other net minder in the playoffs. Thirteen of his twenty two goals allowed have been at even strength.  But does he have it in him to help turn around this series with a solid performance?

Without a doubt, but it will take some help.

If the Red Wings want to get back into this series, it’s going to take a complete turnaround on special teams.

A team that has been known over the years for an uncanny ability to kill penalties has given up five power play goals in the last three games. Against a team that is known for great movement of the puck with space, it will be imperative to shut down the middle of the ice and clog the lanes. Joe Pavelski’s success is much credited to his ability to find the open patches on the ice.  The Red Wings kill and defense will have to shut down the lanes on the outside of the ice, because the Sharks will not pressure Jimmy Howard up front.  As the good old saying goes, a good defense is a killer offense. The Wings advantage that has been nearly unstoppable at points in the playoffs the last few seasons needs a quick makeover. The Wings were shut down with an extra skater five times in game one.  Casey Richey of Winging It in Motown has a bigger breakdown on what needs to happen for success on the kill.

Game Two Preview:

(5) Detroit Red Wings (0-1) @ San Jose Sharks (1-0)(1)

Game Time: Sunday, May 2nd 8:00 PM ET

Venue: HP Pavilion Arena

TV:  Versus

Radio: NHL Radio (Click to Listen)

Twitter Game Updates and Chat: @octopusthrower

Game Links and Notes:

The Sharks will look to continue the success of game one not only to prove they can win at home, but to prove they are not once again a second round bust. Offensively the Sharks are clicking, but in the net and on defense, it looked like the wings could fly by their bite if they stuck to their style of play. Now after game one, the Wings will have to make some adjustments on both sides of the ice. Here are some links to help preview the action coming up tomorrow night.

Tired Legs Lead to Loss– Thomas Knapp over at Bleacher Report explains his belief to why the Wings fell in game one. Let’s hope that tired legs isn’t an issue after an extended length of time off before game two.

Howard Needs to be an Anchor– Adam Biggers explains even further in depth why the Red Wings need Jimmy Howard to be an anchor in net throughout the rest of the playoffs.

It’s Only One– Adam Hollis at Motown Wings explains why Wings fans have no need to worry just yet. Great mindset going into game two.

Franzen’s Scoring Touch– Johan Franzen is hoping that his scoring touch is back after game one’s performance (Per Ansar Khan).

Profile of the Enemy– Fear the Fin has a Profile of the Enemy segment that features Pavel Datsyuk today.

Marleau In– According to Mlive.com’s Ansar Khan, Patrick Marleau will be back after missing game one because of the flu.

I’ll keep you updated on any roster changes up to game two or anything that comes through the wire, but until then enjoy the playoff hockey. If you cant catch the game on Sunday, make sure you swing by our twitter page for game updates as they happen. Go Wings!