The Red Wings have parted ways with long-time goalie coach Jim Bedard, hinting further that Howard will be traded this offseason, the Detroit Free Press reports. Howard was all over the place in terms of performance in 2015-16. In the middle of the season, he went 11 consecutive outings without a win, only to wrestle the starting job away from Petr Mrazek in March and lead the Wings to the playoffs - barely. Detroit could've clinched a playoff berth earlier had Howard not allowed seven goals over the last two games, including losses in each. He then saw the 'L' next to his name after Games 1 and 2 of the conference quarterfinals versus the Lightning, prompting coach Jeff Blashill to rely on Mrazek to finish out the series. The Wings reportedly could bring in Jeff Salajko as the next goalie coach. Given that he's familiar with Mrazek from his days with AHL Grand Rapids, it seems like the right time for the Wings to part ways with Howard, who's spent 10 seasons in the Motor City and comes with a cap hit of $5.291 million though 2018-19.
Howard allowed four goals on 30 shots in Friday'a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay in Game 2. The fifth was an empty-netter. The loss puts Howard and the Wings down 2-0 in the series, which now shifts to the Motor City for Game 3 on Sunday. With the score tied 2-2 in the third, the American netminder was ultimately done in by a pair of tallies by Tyler Johnson -- who found twine twice in less than nine minutes. That said, the old adage is that "you're not in trouble in the playoffs until you lose at home", so look for Howard and the rest of the Wings to come out flying Sunday.
Howard will start in the crease Friday night for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Lightning, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports. Howard appears to have a clenched grip on the starting job between the pipes for the Wings, who are looking to knot the playoff series at 1-1. He's sure to have a close eye on Nikita Kucherov, as the Russian sniper collected three points in Game 1. Howard is desperate for offensive support as the Winged Wheel has only spun six goals in the past three games.
Howard set aside 31 of 34 shots Wednesday against the Lightning, but it wasn't enough as the Wings dropped Game 1 of the quarterfinal match, 3-2. Howard had trouble handling Bolts forward Nikita Kucherov, who produced two goals and an assist on the night. That's now three straight losses for Howard, including the last two games of the regular season. Detroit's offense has supported the veteran goalie with just two goals apiece in the last three contests, which hurts Howard's prospects in playoff pools. He simply hasn't risen to the occasion.
Howard will man the net for Wednesday's Game 1 of the playoffs against Tampa Bay, Ansar Khan of MLive reports. Howard stole the starting job from Petr Mrazek as Mrazek struggled mightily down the stretch. Howard hasn't played phenomenally the last two contests but did notch a shutout over the Flyers in a pivotal game Wednesday. The Red Wings backed into the playoffs and are not playing particularly well, so Howard is a risky proposition going forward.
Last 7 Games
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