Jimmy Howard’s 2013-2014 Season by the Numbers

Prior to the start of the 2013-2014 season, the Detroit Red Wings granted goaltender Jimmy Howard a six-year, $31.8 million extension that will carry him through the 2018-2019 season. His cap hit is $5.3 million per season, putting him on par with Marc-Andre Fleury, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Mike Smith according to CapGeek. The Red Wings’ brass put a lot of trust in Howard with the new contract and Howard responded by posting one of the worst seasons of his career. Howard went 21-19-11 with a 2.66 GAA, and a .910 SV%. Just last year, Howard went 21-13-7 with a 2.12 GAA and a .923 SV% and was the main reason the Red Wings made the playoffs in 2013.

Jimmy  (Icon SMI)

Jimmy Howard was not at the top of his game this year. Can he return to his elite level in 2014-2015? (Icon SMI)

Fingers were largely pointed at the Red Wings defense as the main reason why the Wings struggled. While the defense is absolutely a problem, I wanted to take a look at the man behind the mask. Can Howard completely be absolved of all blame, or is he a bigger part of the problem than we realized? Take a look at Jimmy Howard’s season by the numbers.

Jimmy Howard by the Numbers

The Numbers on Jimmy Howard

2,577 shots were directed at Jimmy Howard with 1,482 of them reaching the net. The shots came from an average distance of 36.1 feet.  Howard stopped 91.0% of those shots, and allowed 133 goals against. However, the numbers are not as simple as that. When did he allow those goals? Where were those goals scored against him? Were any of them “bad goals”. I decided to go back and watch every goal allowed to see if Howard deserves more of the blame than he is receiving. All data was taken from Extra Skater.

OpponentPeriodTimeShot TypeDistance (feet)ShooterSituationScore Margin at Time of GoalLocation of GoalBad Goal?
Buffalo312:36Back15Girgensons5-on-52High BlockerYes (puck-handling mistake)
Carolina113:30Defl8Dvorak5-on-50High Glove
Carolina218:11Wrist12GerbePP-1Low Blocker
Boston19:11Slap42KrugPP0High Glove
Boston20:36Wrist30Marchand5-on-50High Blocker
Boston27:58Wrist20Caron5-on-5-1Low Glove
Boston312:17Back9CharaPP-2High Glove
Phoenix12:21Slap62Morris5-on-50Low Blocker
Phoenix27:04Wrist12Boedker5-on-51High Blocker
Phoenix315:13Slap58Stone5-on-50High Blocker
Philadelphia211:42Slap61Gustafsson5-on-52Low BlockerYes (misplayed shot)
Philadelphia35:46Back29McGinn5-on-52Low Blocker
Phoenix219:00Wrist30Vermette5-on-52High Glove
Phoenix35:07Wrist12Ribeiro5-on-51High BlockerYes (bad rebound to give up)
Phoenix37:08Wrist26Hanzal5-on-50Low Blocker
Phoenix313:14Wrist17Ribeiro5-on-5-1High Blocker
Ottawa15:46Wrist31Gryba5-on-50High Blocker
Ottawa110:48Slap41SpezzaPP-1High Glove
Ottawa114:14Wrist43RyanPP-2High Blocker
NYR217:20Back8PouliotPP1High Blocker
NYR32:18Wrist12Zuccarello5-on-51Five Hole
NYROT4:47Snap16BrassardPP0Low Blocker
Vancouver114:12Wrist20D. Sedin5-on-50High GloveYes (poor positioning)
Calgary210:15Slap44Butler5-on-52Low Blocker
Calgary212:47Wrist22Monahan5-on-51High Glove
Calgary319:50Wrist7Glencross5-on-62Low Blocker
Winnipeg119:00Wrist21Little5-on-50Five Hole
Winnipeg217:04Snap16Frolik5-on-51Low Blocker
Winnipeg34:27Snap22Halischuk5-on-50High Blocker
Winnipeg310:57Back12Ladd5-on-5-1Five Hole
Dallas219:39Wrist8Horcoff5-on-52High Blocker
Dallas34:08Back9Ja. Benn5-on-51Five Hole
Dallas318:50Snap38EakinPP1High Blocker
DallasOT4:41Snap37Peverley4-on-40High Blocker
Tampa Bay110:11Wrist5Malone5-on-51High GloveYes (poor positioning)
Tampa Bay212:50Snap24Stamkos5-on-50High Glove
Tampa BayOT3:51Snap18Purcell4-on-40High Glove
Winnipeg17:10Snap34Little5-on-50High Blocker
Winnipeg310:47Wrist22Bogosian5-on-50High Glove
Washington15:50Back9Laich5-on-50Low GloveYes (bad rebound to give up)
Washington33:19Wrist20Ovechkin5-on-52High Blocker
Washington311:54Back15Latta5-on-51Low Blocker
Nashville219:55Slap60WeberPP0High Blocker
Nashville37:13Back7Bourque5-on-5-1Low Glove
Ottawa114:33Wrist14MacArthur5-on-51High Blocker
Ottawa115:44Wrist29Neil5-on-50Low Blocker
Ottawa33:51Slap17RyanPP0Low Blocker
Ottawa315:58Wrist10MacArthurPP-1Five Hole
Philadelphia113:48Snap29DowniePP1Low Blocker
Philadelphia216:38Wrist13Read5-on-52Low Glove
Philadelphia35:15Wrist42GirouxPP1High Glove
Philadelphia38:28Wrist52Couturier5-on-50High Blocker
Philadelphia39:58Slap40HartnellPP-1High Glove
Florida35:00Tip14Bergenheim5-on-52Five Hole
Florida314:38Wrist12Bjugstad5-on-51High BlockerYes (poor positioning)
Nashville11:54Wrist39Wilson5-on-50Low GloveYes (misplayed shot)
Nashville19:50Snap44Smith5-on-50High BlockerYes (misplayed shot)
Nashville24:24Snap32Spaling5-on-5-1Low GloveYes (misplayed shot)
Nashville35:50Wrist27Fisher5-on-5-1Low Blocker
Nashville312:07Back19Wilson5-on-5-1High Glove
Toronto219:23Wrist19van Riemsdyk5-on-51High GloveYes (misplayed shot)
Toronto34:41Tip8Bozak5-on-50High Blocker
Dallas112:47Defl19HorcoffSH1High Blocker
San Jose14:59Wrist15Pavelski5-on-50Low Blocker
San Jose29:44Wrist44Desjardins5-on-50Low BlockerYes (misplayed shot)
San Jose212:25Wrist8Pavelski5-on-5-1High Blocker
San Jose216:28Wrist18BoylePP-2High Blocker
Los Angeles114:10Slap30DoughtyPP0Low Blocker
NYR314:02Wrist12Zuccarello5-on-50Low BlockerYes (misplayed shot)
Los Angeles29:06Wrist38RichardsPP0High Glove
Los Angeles317:45Wrist10CarterPP0Low Glove
St. Louis111:13Back7Paajarvi5-on-50Low BlockerYes (poor positioning)
St. Louis21:01Slap56Jackman4-on-40High Blocker
St. Louis22:21Wrist44ShattenkirkPP-1High Blocker
Washington115:24Tip9ChimeraPP0Low Blocker
Washington38:09Wrist18Wellman5-on-51High Blocker
Washington319:53Tip9Ward5-on-61Low Blocker
Washington14:43Wrist15Chimera5-on-50Low Glove
Washington17:20Wrist40WardPP-1Five Hole
Washingotn116:05Slap48CarlsonPP-1High Blocker
Washington213:49Wrist11Ward5-on-5-1Five Hole
Washington34:28Wrist14Brouwer5-on-50High Glove
WashingtonOT2:37Slap38OvechkinPP0Low Blocker
Florida119:34Wrist22Upshall5-on-50Five Hole
Tampa Bay21:44Wrist18PalatPP1High Blocker
Tampa Bay217:14Back26Pyatt5-on-51High BlockerYes (poor positioning)
Tampa Bay316:49Wrist15Killorn5-on-50High Blocker
Montreal319:31Back20Gionta5-on-61High Blocker
New Jersey10:27Back4Henrique5-on-50Low Glove
New Jersey30:41Deflection8ZidlickyPP1High Glove
New Jersey36:30Back20Zajac5-on-50High Blocker
New Jersey319:23Tip24Gionta5-on-50High Glove
Colorado210:11Wrist12Duchene5-on-51Low Glove
Colorado35:49Back9Parenteau5-on-51Low Blocker
ColoradoOT4:28Snap32Benoit4-on-40High Blocker
NYR15:14Wrist17Boyle5-on-50Low Blocker
NYR30:14Tip10Kreider5-on-5-1High Glove
NYR312:11Snap35Kreider5-on-5-2High BlockerYes (poor positioning)
Edmonton38:43Wrist18Smyth5-on-51High Glove
Chicago28:44Slap46LeddyPP0Five Hole
Chicago219:46Wrist12Smith5-on-50Low Glove
Chicago36:33Wrist15Hossa4-on-4-1Low Blocker
Chicago317:50Back10ToewsSH-2Low Glove
Toronto38:24Wrist11GardinerPP2Low Blocker
Toronto318:47Tip14van Riemsdyk5-on-62High Blocker
Pittsburgh215:17Tip13Stempniak5-on-52Low Blocker
Pittsburgh215:42Back7Malkin5-on-51Low Blocker
Pittsburgh217:58Slap48MalkinPP0High Glove
Pittsburgh314:17Wrist19Adams5-on-51High Blocker
Minnesota15:38Wrist34KoivuPP0High Glove
Minnesota30:15Wrist9CoylePenalty Shot1Low Glove
Minnesota211:57Slap54PominvillePP2High Glove
Minnesota34:33Wrist3Coyle5-on-51Low Glove
Minnesota36:18Wrist8Parise5-on-50Low Blocker
MinnesotaOT2:15Tip19Moulson4-on-40Low Glove
Columbus11:35Snap9JohansenPP0Low Glove
Columbus112:46Wrist11DubinskyPP-1Low Blocker
Columbus36:58Tip4Atkinson5-on-50Low Glove
Montreal15:14Snap34Plekanec5-on-50High Glove
Montreal114:11Snap35Plekanec4-on-4-1High Glove
Montreal211:03Wrist18Desharnais5-on-5-1High Blocker
Montreal35:48Wrist40Pacioretty5-on-50High Blocker
Montreal311:15Tip26Vanek5-on-5-1High Blocker
Toronto110:57Slap52Franson5-on-50High Blocker
Toronto218:57Wrist25Lupul5-on-52Low Blocker
Boston116:50Slap56Boychuk5-on-50High Blocker
Boston31:10Snap18SoderbergPP0High Blocker
Buffalo212:28Wrist30McBainPP3High BlockerYes (poor positioning)
Buffalo36:40Wrist24Deslauries5-on-52Low Glove
Buffalo21:31Tip11Girgensons5-on-50Low Glove
Buffalo317:49Wrist17Girgensons5-on-52High Blocker
Carolina18:15Wrist6LindholmPP0High Glove
Carolina118:24Snap19Tlusty5-on-5-1Low Blocker

Breaking Down the Numbers

As you can see, Howard was all over the place last season. By my subjective analysis, 12.8% of the goals Howard allowed last year were “bad goals”. These were a result of poor positioning, misplayed shots, bad rebounds, or mishandling the puck. If Howard could cut those in half, his GAA would have been 2.48 and his SV% would have been .916 SV%. We could play the what-if game all day, but I just wanted to illustrate how if Howard had been more focused, his numbers would look much better. However, that is not the most troubling statistic. The most troubling numbers are found if you examine the situations in which Howard gave up goals.

As illustrated in the infographic, Howard gave up 27 goals in the first two minutes or last two minutes of a period. Let me rephrase that to accent that statistic. A whopping 20% of all goals given up by Howard came in the first two minutes or last two minutes of a period. That number doesn’t even include the four goals he allowed with less than a minute to go in overtime. Those goals are absolute backbreakers! They shift the momentum of the game dramatically and can totally demoralize a team. If I expand it to the first five minutes and last five minutes of a period, we find that 45.1% of the goals allowed by Howard came in that time range. Potentially even more disheartening, Howard gave up the first goal of the game in 54% of the games he started. It’s a miracle that the Red Wings made the playoffs this year.

(Tom Turk/The Hockey Writers)

Howard struggled to consistently track the puck throughout the season. (Tom Turk/The Hockey Writers)

Young teams rely on their goalies to keep them in games when the score is tied or if they have the lead. 66.1% of the goals Howard allowed came in situations where the score was tied or the Wings held a one-goal lead. If I further subdivide that, 21.8% of the goals Howard allowed this year were when his team had a one-goal lead. How on Earth is a young team supposed to build confidence if their veteran goaltender can’t hold a lead for them? These goals a particularly detrimental to the confidence of this young team.

Who’s Really to Blame?

Yes, the Red Wings defense was atrocious at times last year. However, based on these numbers, they should not be the only ones receiving blame. Jimmy Howard is getting paid like an elite goaltender and unfortunately he did not perform as such in the 2013-2014 season. He gave up untimely goals, back-breaking goals, and very bad goals. Young teams rely on their goaltenders to be dialed in from the moment that the puck is dropped. Howard did not provide that level of focus this year. If the Red Wings are to take the next step in becoming a contender, the first step will absolutely be improving their defense. However, you could definitely argue that the second step will be figuring out if Howard can stand and deliver for them consistently. Unfortunately for the Wings, they will be forced to find out as Howard is locked in until 2019. We all know he has that extra level. We’ve seen it in the playoffs and in big games before. It’s just a matter of whether or not Howard can concentrate for 60 minutes to provide this young team with a steady presence in goal, instead of constant jolts to their confidence and psyche.


Prashanth Iyer

THW Detroit Red Wings Contributor

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10 Comments

  1. so, you expect him to return to the level he was at when he had Lidstrom, Rafalski, Krownwall and Stuart on the top two defensive pairings in front of him. Kronwall is the only member of those four still on the team. in fact, Ericcson went from being the #6 defenseman at that time, to a top pair guy now. has his skill improved that much? i don’t believe it truly has. unfortunately, due to youth (Dekeyser, Smith, Lashoff) and lack of skill (Quincey, Kindl) he is, in fact the second best defenseman on the team. so, you’re expectations for Howard to perform at an elite level when he clearly doesn’t have the same elite defense in front of him that he once did seems like a bit of a tall order.

  2. all you’ve done here is shown what times and what situations the other teams scored goals. you make a point to say what we all know, that the defense was beyond terrible last year. but, you then go on to put every goal squarely on Howard’s shoulders by not taking into account whether there was poor defensive positioning or turnovers involved in any of situations you present. you take time to mention what his numbers would look like if he cut down on mistakes that resulted in “bad goals,” but fail to go the distance and make a prediction on what his numbers would look like if the team were to cut down on the number of shots he has to face per game, as it was up to just over 29 shots per game last year (a jump of over two shots per game from 2012). looking at Gustavsson’s near identical numbers to Howard’s seems to be indicative of a bigger problem than the goaltenders. looking further, you’ll notice that the team’s average shots for per game has been consistently dropping since ’09-’10 season. they’re down from nearly 34 per game to 30 last season. this means, that the team has been worse at controlling the puck over the last few years. the less time you spend with the puck, the more time your opponent has with it. you make a shoddy attempt at qualifying everything by stating that “the defense was atrocious at times.” how many of their games did you even watch? a more accurate statement would be that “the defense wasn’t atrocious at times. but, they were few and far between.” just another wannabe blog writer trying to make a name by bashing the goaltender and half-assing your “research.”

    • Prashanth IyerPrashanth Iyer says:

      There’s a right way to go about criticizing a piece and then there’s a wrong way and unfortunately you’ve opted for the wrong way. You are taking more than what I’ve implied in my work. Nowhere do I say that Howard deserves blame for every goal. That sentence does not appear in this piece. All I’m saying is that if you’re going to get paid $5.3 million a year, you have to be better than what he was this year. I went back and watched all 133 goals that were let in. There were plenty of them that came off of turnovers or shots that just plain weren’t stoppable. All I’m suggesting is that Howard has to return to the level he was at in prior years. Your argument about puck possession is partially valid. Shots on goal is a good indicator, but Corsi For and Fenwick For are better indicators. The Wings still ranked in the top-10 in Fenwick For in even strength situations. If you won’t remain civil in replying, then there’s no need for me to qualify my points any more. The only thing you should take away from this article is that while the defense was young and made many mistakes, Howard should have been better, and needs to be better moving forward.

  3. SilentStryk09 is absolutely correct. This article just reeks of someone who began “research” with a conclusion in mind and just picked whichever facts he thought would fit the pre-determined narrative then explained why the facts show what he wants them to show (even though they don’t). That’s how you end up with ridiculous statements like “a whopping” 20% of goals scored in 20% of the game. WOW that’s some big league analysis.

    The entire premise of the article is dubious to begin with, regardless of how little thought was put into it. You can’t draw any conclusions from sample size of 1. I don’t care how many “bad goals” Howard gave up according to you because taken in isolation, the number means nothing. How many “bad goals” do other goalies give up? How many do the best goalies give up? How many goals at the beginning/end of periods to other goalies give up? Are more goals scored at the beginning and/or end of periods? That would be useful information for comparison. Without any comparison to other goalies, all the numbers you cited are utterly useless in drawing any kind of conclusion or offering any useful analysis.

    I guess you can just cite meaningless numbers and conclude he lacks focus and call it an article though so you’ve got that going for you.

    • Prashanth IyerPrashanth Iyer says:

      I appreciate the feedback from all three of you. You have pointed out that yes, he gave up 20% of the goals in 20% of the game. However, this assumes that a goal at any point in time is worth the same in terms of the flow of the game. We know that a goal scored in the first two minutes or the last two minutes of a game can have a greater impact on the overall game than a goal scored in the middle 16 minutes. Now you are correct, I should have pulled some comparisons for this. The problem was there really was no good way to do it. If I show you a guy like Lundqvist, then people will say, “oh you’ve compared him to the best goalie in the NHL”. If I show you Rask, people will say “oh you’ve compared him to a goalie that has an unreal defense”. The problem was finding the perfect comparison to Howard. I struggled to come up with one and that’s why I left out a comparison. Finally, the last piece of defense I’d like to offer is that the point of this article was not to trash Howard by any means. It was to suggest that if he’s going to get paid like an elite goaltender, he should play like one. You’ve pulled one statistic out of the bunch and said that it was a faulty number. What about the fact that he gave up the first goal in 54% of the games he started? You don’t need a comparison there to know that that number is below par. What about the fact that Howard allowed 29 goals when the Wings held a one-goal lead? That number is bad when you consider that he only appeared in 51 games. I appreciate your comments on the article, but do you firmly believe that Howard is an elite goaltender? The point that I did not make clear in this was that these numbers should support the general feeling that most Wings’ fans had during this past season. I plain and simple did not trust the Wings when Howard was in goal.

      • “We know that a goal scored in the first two minutes or the last two minutes of a game can have a greater impact on the overall game ”

        Is that true? I know that this is a popular belief but is there actual evidence that goals at these times effect the game more than goals at other times? If not, you’re basing a big part of your conclusion on a sizeable assumption.

        “The problem was there really was no good way to do it.”

        That’s true. If you picked one or two goalies, the sample still wouldn’t be large enough to mean anything. When you severely limit the sample size to 12 minutes per game, you’re going to see a lot of randomness influencing the results. Goals aren’t scored at consistent rates which is why it’s generally accepted that even a single season worth of 5-on-5 SV% isn’t even enough to adequately judge a goalie’s true ability. It’s subject to a lot of statistical noise and it takes a while to see through it. I agree that it would be difficult to come up with any analysis like this that would produce meaningful information but that doesn’t make the information you’ve generated meaningful. Without context, it’s not possible to draw any logical conclusion.

        It was to suggest that if he’s going to get paid like an elite goaltender, he should play like one.”

        He’s not paid like an elite goaltender. Howard’s cap hit was the 13th highest among goalies last year and his salary was 10th. That is not elite territory. Lundqvist, Rinne and Rask are paid like elite goaltenders. Also, you’re saying he should play like an elite goaltender while having not compared his results to generally accepted elite goaltenders. Why not? If the point of your article was to show that Howard was not elite why have you offered no comparison?

        “What about the fact that he gave up the first goal in 54% of the games he started?”

        That is interesting but again, you’ve offered no context. It’s obviously easy to know that average for all goalies will be 50% and Howard is clearly below average. But is there a strong correlation between goalie ability and allowing the first goal? Since it takes a long time for something like save percentage to normalize (highly volatile in the short term), I would hypothesize that something like allowing the first goal is also significantly influenced by randomness in the short term. Looking at the truly elite goalies mentioned above, what are their numbers? Is not allowing the first goal something that’s really a skill or mostly luck? Again, no context.

        “I appreciate your comments on the article, but do you firmly believe that Howard is an elite goaltender?”

        I don’t think he’s an elite goaltender but I think he’s good enough to justify the contract.

        Here is a list of goalies sorted by save percentage. It is regular season 5-0n-5, score close (defined as within 1 goal in the first two periods or tied in the third period) for the past three regular season.

        http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/ratings.php?disp=1&db=201114&sit=5v5close&pos=goalies&minutes=2500&teamid=0&type=shots&sort=ShPctA&sortdir=ASC

        This measure accounts for differences in shots faced, time on the penalty kill and encompasses only time when saves are really crucial. Look where Jimmy is and who he is above.

        • Prashanth IyerPrashanth Iyer says:

          Hey Patrick,

          Thanks for sharing that last link. It follows my line of thinking in that Howard was great the previous two seasons and had a down season last year. I was mainly focusing on just this past season and how he needs to return to that level. Fair point on the inability to draw a logical conclusion from the way I presented that stat. Perhaps a better way to view that stat would have been to view it in absolutes. I just took a quick look at Henrik Lundqvist and found that he gave up 29 goals in the first two minutes or last two minutes in 63 games, compared to Howard giving up 27 in 51 games. Again, can’t draw a substantial conclusion from that one comparison, but it’s worth noting that there may be merit to what I’m suggesting. Clearly I should have extended the research for another few days before publishing and I’m reaping the “rewards” for not going the distance like I normally do. I appreciate you keeping the comments civil and constructive and look forward to chatting hockey in the future.

  4. Thank god I wasn’t the only one that noticed it… @SilentStryk09

  5. SilentStryk09 says:

    So wait, what you’re saying is he gave up 20% of his goals in 20% of the game? Huh, that almost makes logical sense and doesn’t hurt his case. You also go on to say he gave up 45% of goals in the first or last five minutes of a period. That means he allowed more goals in the second and third sets of 5 minutes.

    • Prashanth IyerPrashanth Iyer says:

      You are correct. Perhaps looking at the absolutes would have been a better way to illustrate the point. Howard gave up 27 such goals in a total of 51 games played. As a comparison, Lundqvist gave up 29 such goals in 63 games. I appreciate the feedback.

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