Is Jimmy Howard Still the One for The Detroit Red Wings


Apr 9, 2015; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) puts on his mask before the game against Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Every team needs one good goalie if they want to be a good team. A good goalie can help you when your team goes on a scoring drought, he can be there when your team is scoring 5 goals a game. A good goalie is one of the most important parts of a good team. You don’t win a lot of games with good goalies, most importantly, you don’t win championships without a darn good goalie, which in the end for most teams is the point of a season.

This NHL season has been riddled with goalie “controversies” or battles, and some goalies coming out of no where and helping their team make it to the playoffs. One of the biggest cases for this has been Andrew Hammond, who replaced Craig Anderson towards the end of the season and helped the Senators make it to the playoffs. Scott Darling of the Chicago Blackhawks has taken over for Corey Crawford in the playoffs, a good goalie who stayed hot and helped his team in the playoffs.

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Then there is the Detroit Red Wings and their goalie “controversy” this season. Calling it that though is a little much, it wasn’t really much of a controversy, because it was only after an injury to Jimmy Howard that allowed youngster Petr Mrazek to come in and show that he could handle the job of starter for the team while Howard was out.

Looking at one stretch of games where Mrazek was the starter due in part to the Howard injury was January 7th through February 14th. The Red Wings played 12 games before Howard game back, Mrazek played in 11 games, his record throughout those 11 games was 9-3 and the most goals he gave up in a game was 5 in a January 5-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Throughout the season Mrazek has been up and down, however more times than not he has been up.

Detroit Red Wings
Detroit Red Wings /

Detroit Red Wings

So when Babock named him the starter in the series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, there were mixed emotions about the choice. Some thought, the choice makes sense, you go with your hot goalie that has shown great potential over the season. While others thought the choice seemed a tad foolish because Mrazek hadn’t played in the playoff before and you would think going with your veteran goaltender would be the best choice, he has been there and knows how things go. Also you have put so much faith and trust into Howard throughout the last 4 plus seasons and pay him a lot of money, he should be starting.

However, the first game of the series saw Mrazek have a tremendous game and many thought he may be able to be the goalie this team needs for the playoffs and many started to hop on the idea of Mrazek being the starter. Then game 2 happened and while some say, the loss was more at fault to the skaters than the goal tending, it was still a bad loss for the team to take and so again some fans were split on if the 23 year-old should be starting. Yet, a bigger questions sits with me and with other Red Wings fans.

Is Jimmy Howard still the number one goal tender for the Detroit Red Wings?

With that question I thought of a few things that make that question a very difficult situation for the team when the off-season comes. First, if he isn’t your starter anymore and the team wants Mrazek to be the starter does Howard take the back up roll? What if Howard had a great preseason and looks better than Mrazek? The upcoming preseason play will be interesting and probably one of the most important times for the Red Wings when it comes to their goal tending.

Second, what if Mrazek has the better preseason and then Howard moves into the back up roll, how do you have a guy who is making 6 million dollars a season for you until the 2019 season sitting in the back up roll? You didn’t sign him for that much to sit being the back up, his hit on the cap could hurt you and what he ends up doing might not be worth what you end up paying him. So the team could run into have signing a guy that basically is now getting out played and that is not a fun situation to be stuck in.

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This last part is more so an idea and a very bold proposal, say Mrazek is playing great and looks to be sitting in the starter roll great and Howard is still on the bench, do you use him as trade bait at the trade deadline in the next season? Now, I understand this sounds crazy and more than likely won’t happen, but at the deadline there is usually always one team that ends up needing a goal tender to help them out and Howard isn’t in the top group of goalies, but he is good. His contract isn’t that scary that another team would be willing to pick it up. In return we could maybe get a player that will help us with where ever we are at the time.

I’m not calling an end to Howard’s career in Detroit, but at some point the front office and coaches have to sit down and think about this. Who do we want as our future, Howard will be 32 next season and Mrazek will be 24, your future can’t really be fully in the hands of a guy turning 32 but at the same time, if he has a good preseason and gets back to being a constant performer, I think the team is better off with him as the starter and Mrazek as the back up, but, only if he can be consistent.

Next: Why the Detroit Red Wings game four loss was inexcusable

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