With all the injuries and misfortune that the Detroit Red Wings have had to endure this year, the one situation that may keep them from going deep in the playoffs could be their goalie.
A franchise who has housed some of the greatest goalies of all time, from Sawchuk, to Vernon, Hasek, CuJo, and Ozzie, dealing with net-minding issues isn't foreign. The problem with the free-spending Wings of past years was the luxury that they had with just picking whatever goalie they needed and paying them big bucks to come to Detroit.
The catch-22 comes in with the inability of the team to develop quality homegrown goaltending.
Detroit has tried with Tim Cheveldae, Norm Maracle, Stefan Liv, and now Jimmy Howard. Overall, the results for these players have been quite underwhelming, with just minor success gained by Legace and Cheveldae.
However, the organization is ready to ordain Howard as the heir to Osgood's goalie throne, and so far his play has been stellar. He is in the top 10 in goals against and save percentage, as well as being the main reason why the Wings are within striking distance of the playoffs.
And I mean but.
Lets take a trip to 2006.
A simpler time in Wings hockey history. We had just completed a smooth run through the regular season, capturing our 5th presidents trophy, and enjoyed a cushy number 1 seed against the Edmonton Oilers for the first round of the playoffs. It looked like nothing could stop us, thanks mostly to the outstanding play of Manny Legace.
Unfortunately, the untested goalie was not playoff ready. His weaknesses became magnified in the spotlight of the playoffs and the 8th seeded Oilers upset the mighty Wings. All the regular season accolades couldn't save him from mentally blowing up in Edmonton.
Legace was done in Detroit.
I'm not saying this could be the scenario that echoes for the young Jimmy Howard, but it does make you wonder that he just might not be ready for the big stage.
If the Wings make the playoffs, it'll be up to Howard on how far they will go.
I just think that Howard's legacy will be similar to Manny's.