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If the season ended today, not only am I convinced that Jimmy Howard would be the Red Wings' MVP, he would also be the only logical choice for the Vezina Trophy as the league's top netminder.
Leading the league with 22 wins is one thing, but combined with his individual stats, only a fool would consider Howard anything but a top-five goalie.
Now, there are still those among us who will likely always discount the success of a Detroit goalie with the well-worn, "Yeah, but he plays for the Red Wings" argument. But, in Howard's case, this argument simply does not hold water.
Howard boasts a sparkling 1.95 goals-against average and a solid .927 save percentage, hardly indicative of a goalie whose wins are just indicative of playing behind a strong team.
Indeed, many of Howard's 22 wins came about only because he was in net.
As good a team as the Red Wings continue to be, they still suffer from the occasional slow start which, as late as last season, would routinely lead to losses.
With Howard in goal, the Red Wings can afford to get their legs going through the first period if need be as he more often than not is shutting the door on the opposition early.
Despite Howard's sterling numbers, statistics aren't really what makes him a great goalie.
His aggressive yet sound positioning, athleticism and blossoming swagger can't be measured in numbers, but are well evident when watching him play.
A goalie alone cannot win a team a Stanley Cup, but there is little doubt that Howard now has the ability to backstop a championship team.
Until further notice, Jimmy Howard is the Red Wings' most valuable player this season.
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