In Defense of… Howard?

Of all the players from last night’s failure that could be talked about in a non-positive light, I would think that Howard would not be one of them. I would be wrong, though. Sure there are some fans out there who don’t really know any better. They see the other team score and want to blame the last guy to screw up, meaning the goalie. But I didn’t expect to see a report on that very subject written and published for the world to see.

More after the jump:

Noticed this article from Eric Thomas on Twitter today. I read it. I disagreed with it. Now I’ll explain why.

“Jimmy Howard was perfect when the Hawks peppered him with shots in the second period; praise for acrobatic saves rained down from Twitter while many held their breath and wondered, ‘Will this be Jimmy Howard’s signature playoff win?’”

Wait, we’re still waiting for a signature win? The four from round one weren’t enough? He outplayed Hiller in round one. Stole a series from a deeper Ducks’ team. No signature wins, though? Hell, Howard outplayed Crawford, too. Crawford faced about three good scoring chances all night. One hit the post, one hit the crossbar and the other went in. Wow! Stellar!

“The Red Wings’ lost game two[sic] in Chicago, and you can’t blame that on Jimmy Howard. The goalie did not lose the game. He didn’t win it either.”

As you can see, Thomas doesn’t blame Howard, nor is he offering him a pat on the back. No Wings goalie from the last 20 years wins that game last night. None come close. Howard did. For Howard to win that game, considering the rate the Wings were getting shots and scoring chances, he probably needs to stop 59/60 shots before Detroit wins 2-1 in 2OT.

I often argue with our Art Department over expectations of certain players. Franzen comes to mind. Abdelkader, too. But if you expect Howard to stop 50+ shots and only let in one, stop watching hockey.

Not to say he can’t do that. In fact, at some point I’m sure he will because he’s awesome. He just shouldn’t have to.

“To be fair, the defense hasn’t helped him this year. He’s 2nd in shots against, but Henrik Lundqvist and Tukka Rask are right behind him, both boasting better save percentages than number 35.”

If Rask didn’t have Zdeno Chara and the rest of his defense, the Bruins would be long gone. Same for Lundqvist. Do either of them have to deal with the likes of Smith/Quincey for 20 minutes a night?

There isn’t a contender in the NHL right now whose chances of winning the cup wouldn’t be either the same or better with Howard on their team.

Thomas acknowledges that Howard occupies one of the two most scrutinized jobs in Detroit. I’m just at a loss that people don’t realize he’s the best Wings goalie we’ve seen in a generation.

What do you think?