Leading the league with 32 wins, despite his 10-day absence, one has to wonder if Jimmy Howard will be the same when he comes back.
"It's just going out there and basically getting confidence in that it's not going to hurt or anything like that. The pain level has been going down every day."
But confidence that his finger "isn't going to hurt" and confidence that Howard will continue to rack up wins when he gets back are two different things.
But rest assured, Red Wings fans, Jimmy Howard's broken finger is no reason to panic.
Here are five reasons why.
Joey MacDonald did an excellent job of relieving and backing up Jimmy Howard over last season.
This season has proven to be no different.
MacDonald has allowed two goals or less in each of his four appearances this season (three of them starts). His record overall is 3-1-1, with an impressive .926 save percentage and a 1.87 GAA.
Howard was originally slated to be out only two games, but because he just started facing shots today, he might be unable to return for at least another couple games.
This means MacDonald, who has started the last three games since taking over for an ineffective Ty Conklin back in the Edmonton game, will likely pick up a couple more games before Howard comes back.
Because MacDonald has excelled in his limited playing time this season with Detroit, expect Detroit to keep winning, or at least picking up points in Howard's absence.
To say Detroit's defense has improved monumentally from last season would be stating the obvious.
But your best defender has to be your goalie.
However, since Jimmy Howard is out, and Joey MacDonald is doing a pretty good job standing in for him, Detroit needs the extra push from their defenders, and they need them to step up in Howard's absence.
Since the first period of the Edmonton game, that is exactly what has happened. Detroit has given up just seven goals (not including the Philadelphia game tonight), and they look to be clamping down defensively.
While Jimmy Howard has been out, Joey MacDonald has made the most of his opportunities, but the defense has helped him out immeasurably, especially in the last game against Anaheim.
It is often said that the best penalty killer has to be your goaltender.
Well, sitting at 23rd in the NHL on the penalty kill percentage-wise, it might appear that Detroit's goaltender hasn't been a very good penalty killer.
But Joey MacDonald has done everything he can to be the best penalty killer for Detroit.
Any Red Wings fan is always happy to see Detroit's rivals struggling.
Chicago has just one point in its last eight games and has quickly found itself essentially down and out for the Central Division crown.
St. Louis is keeping pace with Detroit nicely, but they need to win both of their games in hand to pass Detroit, a feat not easily done.
Nashville is 6-2-2 in their past 10 games, but they are still eight points back of the Red Wings with only one game in hand.
With Jimmy Howard out, it is still nice to see that the team doesn't depend too heavily on the goaltender (with the exception of the other night against Anaheim) to win games for them.
It is also for this reason that fans need not panic about Howard's finger injury.
Not only is it just a finger that is broken for Jimmy Howard, but it is on his stick hand.
This means that Howard can still make glove saves, just like before, and he will take his time getting his poke-check and puck-playing abilities back.
But after watching Joey MacDonald's blooper tonight against Philadelphia, I would be perfectly content to see Jimmy Howard not play the puck until his finger is fully healed.
Howard's injury to his blocker-side finger came possibly in one of the most fortunate places possible (if there is such thing as a fortunate injury).
Had it been his catching glove hand, Howard could be out longer. Obviously, if it had been anything in his lower body, he would have had trouble moving side to side as well.
But it's an index finger on the blocker hand, folks!
There's no need to panic, and Jimmy Howard will come back stronger than ever this coming week.
If there's any long-term results from this, they are that Howard got a little rest after playing far too many games over the first 60 percent of the season.
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