Red Wings' Jimmy Howard Makes Statement vs. Blue Jackets

Jim BalintCorrespondent IDecember 30, 2009

MONTREAL- SEPTEMBER 30:  Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings stops the puck during the game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on September 30, 2008 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Canadiens defeated the Red Wings 2-1 in a shootout.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

If Monday night’s performance hasn’t put an end to the debate as to who the starting goaltender in Detroit needs to be, I don’t know what will.

 

In a season where the Wings are looking for players to step up and take charge of a game, Jimmy Howard put in his best performance of the year, possibly even his career. 

 

Howard stopped 39 shots, and kept his team in a game they had no business being in. It wasn’t until the closing minutes of overtime that the Blue Jackets were able to solve Howard.

 

Columbus’ goal came off a rebound with 1:48 left in overtime. Fredrik Modin took a shot from the slot, then went around Brett Lebda and backhanded his own rebound for the game-winner.

 

The game turned out to be a goaltending clinic, as Steve Mason thwarted what few chances the Wings created and post the shutout. After the horn sounded to end the third, the crowd gave both goalies a standing ovation. That’s saying something, especially getting it in the opposition’s building.

 

To watch the highlights, you would have thought the Wings were constantly on the penalty kill. Howard was called upon countless times to keep the game scoreless. In the second period, Howard made a point-blank save on Jared Boll with his right pad, and another moments later on Derick Brassard with his glove to keep the game scoreless.

 

Just before the end of the second, Howard made his best save of the night. Kris Russell stepped in from the point and looked to go high glove-side, but Howard was able to deflect it to the glass.

 

The Wings didn’t make Mason’s night particularly difficult, but he did make a glorious save on Tomas Holmstrom with the second period winding down to keep it scoreless.

 

In spite of the loss, Howard should be feeling great about his performance. He didn’t receive any help from his offense, and was able to keep the game close, essentially netting that one point for making it to overtime on his own. This will go a long way in terms of earning the trust and confidence of his teammates, and eventually the outright starting job for the rest of the season.