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Morning Line

Yes, the Detroit Red Wings were without Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg their top two scorers on Wednesday night against Philadelphia, but the outcome, a shocking 6-3 loss that saw the Red Wings cough up 3-1 lead allowing four third-period goals, highlighted what is a burgeoning problem for head coach Mike Babcock: his goaltending. Specifically, Babcock is faced with the reality that what is supposed to be his best goaltender is not his best goaltender. Jimmy Howard took the loss Wednesday allowing five goals on 33 shots. Yes, the four third-period goals the Flyers registered included two power-play markers and an empty-net goal, but the fact is that Howard has just one win in his last eight appearances and six times over that stretch has allowed three or more goals. Jonas Gustavsson, meanwhile, has won four in a row for the Wings and is a sparkling 7-0-1 on the season. Maybe it's just a bump in the road for Howard but right now he's in danger of playing himself out of contention for the U.S. Olympic team and out of the starter's role in Detroit.

-Scoot Burnside of ESN where you can read more opinions from the hockey experts at ESPN.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jimmy+howard

Comments

joedaiceman's avatar

Spot on

Posted by joedaiceman on 12/05/13 at 09:58 AM ET

YzermanZetterberg's avatar

It is hard to argue with Scoot on this one.  smile

Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 12/05/13 at 10:14 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Howard has been fine, but the thing is, as the team has started slowly, and is now suffering significant injuries, this is the time where you really, desperately need Howard to be much better than fine.

Based on his play the last few years, and in particular in the playoffs last season, we know, or at least thought, that he had the ability to step up, and steal some games. I definitely don’t expect him to be Lundquist or a healthy Rinne, but the thing is, when the rest of the team is playing mediocre at best, Howard is the one guy that is in a position where if he elevates his game—or simply keeps it at the high level it should always be at—you can survive the slumps.

Yeah, the bad play this year is a full-team thing. I don’t want to be the cliche Wings fan that singles out the starting goalie. But I do believe there is a little truth here. You want to give Howie time to get into his best form, just like you want to give guys like Weiss the same. But at some point, you have to simply put the best players possible on the ice or you’re going to find yourself staring down the final 41 games, with a bunch of guys with nagging injuries, crossing your fingers that you can sneak into the 8th seed and get healthy in the meantime. That’s not an acceptable result for a team with Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Weiss, Franzen, Alfredsson, Kronwall, and Howard, all being led by this quality coaching staff.

The Wings’ saving grace thus far has been that they were moved to the East. The conference is really pretty crappy right now. In the West it looks like they’d be good and buried already (or they’d have played better all along because they tend to play down to teams that are perceived as inferior).

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 12/05/13 at 01:19 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Burnside really needs to watch the game and not just mine the boxscore.

No seriously, at no point in his blurb does Burnside state anything to lead one to believe he’s seen anything beside the boxscore.  And that’s just dumb and lazy, no context whatsoever for anything.  Actually seeing the context of what happened tells you a lot more, instead of just seeing Howard had 5 GA’s and assuming it was all him.

Howard was the least of their problems last night.  Wings defense was terrible in the second half of the game, and the forwards made too many miscues to sustain anything offensively.  And there’s also that 1 out of 7 PP that could have easily put the Flyers away early, and instead took a big dump on the ice.

And yes, “The Wings were without a future Hall of Famer and probably top player in theleague, and also their captain and current leading scorer, but…” is a really dumb thing to lead anything off with.

This is why he works for ESPN and not for an outlet that actually devotes more to hockey.

Posted by Primis on 12/05/13 at 04:29 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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