They Keep Pumping Howie’s Tires

Here’s an article on NHL Fanhouse(thanks to teddywings for the pointer) with more chatter about how more and more people think that Jimmy Howard is the starter now rather than later…

Howard was in the crease for the fifth time in six games on Wednesday night, stopping 25 of 26 shots in a 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues. He’s not only been playing quite a bit lately, he’s also been playing extremely well, posting a save percentage north of .920 over the last two months. Osgood, meanwhile, hasn’t won a game in over a month, losing five consecutive decisions dating back to Nov. 5.

Can’t argue with that…it’s the truth.

Let’s begin by taking a look at Osgood’s shot chart and his save percentage from each spot in the defensive zone.

He appears to be getting eaten alive by the mid-range shots, particularly the ones coming from between the faceoff dots — an area every team wants to get shots from, regardless of who is between the pipes.
Oh look, a chart.  Not quite as scientific as the one Chris posted a couple days ago.  Let’s look at Howie’s chart and what Fanhouse had to say:

Howard has been significantly better at the mid-range shots and very similar on the long-range shots. The one area he appears to be more vulnerable is the area directly in front of the crease where that .843 mark shows up (81 saves, 96 shots). It’s the one key spot where Osgood (87 saves, 95 shots) has a sizable advantage.

Goalies are hardly to blame for pucks directly in front of the crease.  This is obviously not without exception, though most of these goals are probably the result of someone missing a defensive assignment/mark or failing to clear a rebound.
Howie to start on Friday vs the Ducks?  Babcock said it was possible.  What do you guys think?
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