Detroit Red Wings: Goaltending Battle Already Weighing on Jimmy Howard

Coming off of an overtime loss against Calgary, it’s apparent that the goaltending battle against Petr Mrazek is already weighing on Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard. The mental aspect of the battle was noticeable throughout the game against Calgary—Howard’s first game since losing to Carolina last weekend.

Howard Got Peppered

In last night’s game, the Red Wings controlled the puck throughout the first period—something they failed to do thereafter. When goalies face minimal shots in the early going of a game, they can’t get comfortable in net. Getting peppered in the latter stages of the game weighs on a goalie mentally since he hasn’t had time to trust his positioning and save selection process. The Red Wings did not help Howard, but as a starting goaltender in the NHL, Howard should be able to battle through that if he wants to win.

Lack of Self-Trust

Howard’s positioning suffered throughout the game as a result of his lack of confidence. Take Mark Giordano’s first goal for example. When goalies lack confidence, they tend to play deep in their net. This is something Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky is suffering from. Howard stayed deep in his net and could not see around diminutive Jiri Hudler instead of cutting off the angle on a shot from far away.

Numerous times throughout the game, Howard drifted back into his net after sensing trouble around him. That is purely a mental struggle on his part. He doesn’t trust himself or the defensemen around him to block the shot or a pass.

On the tying goal, Howard exhibited another example of low self-confidence. He overcompensated on Giordano’s point shot and way too hard into the area the puck was destined for. However, Joe Colborne deflected the shot from high in the slot, tipping it into an already gapping net. This scenario was time for a conservative save selection, considering the traffic. Howard was aggressive, fearing that a conservative approach on his part would not do the job. Tips are hard to react to, but in this case, Howard could have played a “zone defense” and had coverage of most of the net, while still putting himself in position to stop a clean shot through. To summarize this point, look where Howard is when the traffic clears after the goal.

Finally, Giordano’s overtime goal (seriously, can we trade for this guy?) is excellent proof that Howard does not trust his positioning. Yes, Giordano is wide open, but Howard selling out short-side shows he does not trust is positioning. Watch:

What Went Wrong

  1. Though originally on his feet, Howard chose a lateral slide, rather than a T-push. This reaction to slide comes from lack of confidence in his skating, fatigue, or both.
  2. He gets up with his inside leg. Howard should have planted with his outside leg to stand up square and face what’s coming next.

Hopefully Howard can rebound is his next game and provide evidence that he should be the starting goalie going forward. His games against Toronto and Tampa Bay certainly support that.


Notes Heading Into Vancouver

Following the loss, the Red Wings were hit with more bad news. Kyle Quincey and Mike Green both join Brad Richards on the sideline.

Alexey Marchenko and Jakub Kindl draw in for the Red Wings, with Mrazek starting in net against a Vancouver team looking to rebound after a loss to the Capitals on Thursday night. The well-rested Canucks will start Ryan Miller against Detroit.