Blog Entry

How-ard they going to win with him?

Posted on: April 18, 2010 7:52 pm

The Detroit Red Wings were the NHL’s hottest team coming into the playoffs, in no small part because they were riding a rookie goalie who was a lot better than anyone might have expected.

But there were still questions about how Jimmy Howard would handle his first playoff situation for the Red Wings and after three games in this quarterfinal series against the Phoenix Coyotes, you can see why.

Howard wasn’t the only reason the uncharacteristically tentative Red Wings lost 4-2 at home to Phoenix in a nationally televised game on Sunday that left them behind 2-1 in the series. But he certainly played a role. In fact Howard is arguably the biggest reason Detroit is facing a surprisingly uphill battle

His play has been anything but steady, in marked contrast to what is happening at the other end. Ilya Bryzgalov, a leading candidate for the Vezina Trophy and the Hart Trophy as league MVP this season, has been giving his upstart team a chance to win in each of the games so far, while Howard, well, has not.

Jitters might have explained Howard’s effort in the series opener, even though it was his best effort to this point. Truth is the rookie Red Wings netminder has been fighting the puck since the outset of the series in the desert, and if it wasn’t apparent before, it had to be after Detroit dropped this pivotal Game 3.

The Red Wings seemed to be turning the tide in the series against the upstart Coyotes with their big win in the desert the other night. Howard wasn’t particularly sharp in that one, letting Phoenix come back three times after his team scored.  His teammates bailed him out by exploding to win the game in the final period, but whatever momentum this veteran team might have carried over disappeared less than a minute into Game 3 when Howard was caught out of position on a goal by Coyotes forward Sami Lepisto.

Howard was slow to get over on Wojtek Wolski’s go-ahead goal in the final minute of the second period – a sweet moment for the Phoenix forward because he victimized Justin Abdelkader who did the same to him for a key goal in Game 2. But the Red Wings goalie’s worst miscue came midway through the third period less than two minutes after his team narrowed their deficit to 3-2 when he blew a shot to the short side by Radim Vrbata. That restored the Coyotes two-goal lead and let them get into the prevent defense mode they play so effectively.

Of course you could and should give the Cinderella Coyotes their props too. Phoenix got caught up in a run-and-gun affair in Game 2, but recalibrated very quickly and got back to doing what they do best which is keeping things tight, taking advantage of opportunities, and having Bryzgalov work his magic in goal.

The general sense coming into this series was that if Phoenix had any chance of upsetting a playoff tested team that has been to the last two Stanley Cup Finals, Bryzgalov would have to be the difference maker. Compared to Howard so far, he is.

Category: NHL

Since: Nov 8, 2006
Posted on: April 18, 2010 10:41 pm

How-ard they going to win with him?

Uh, Wes - not quite sure what series you're watching,but Bryzgalov has NOT been the difference.  he gaveup a really bad goal in Game 1.  but his team out-played and outworked the Wings.  then he got lit upfor six goals in Game 2.  today, once again - thedifference was the Coyotes d-men and forwards.they wanted it more.  it's not like Bryzgalov wasstanding on his head.  has Howard been strong?no.  but if guys like Franzen and Cleary don'twake up, it's not going to matter.  and Phoenix,as a team - will move on...

Since: May 11, 2009
Posted on: April 18, 2010 10:10 pm

How-ard they going to win with him?

The "sneakiest" part about the Coyotes is, besides their goaltender, they have no marquee names.  They play as a team, and they take turns contributing.  I've watched them all year, and you never know who's gonna step up tonight, but someone does.  It's a nice, evenly-spread level of talent.  NO team should take them lightly......

Since: Feb 12, 2008
Posted on: April 18, 2010 10:00 pm

How-ard they going to win with him?

I seem to recall warning people a few weeks ago the Coyotes are going to sneak up on some teams.

Since: Apr 3, 2009
Posted on: April 18, 2010 9:02 pm

How-ard they going to win with him?

Ive been telling everybody. Phoenix will be a problem for us, but i did not expect us to play so..uncoordinated would be a good word. Lidstrom has lost it, he just keeps on getting beat. Stuart is trying but he always makes dumb plays that irritate us all, he's got to go. Kronwall just keeps on feeding the puck to the yotes. Bertuzzi cant control a pass for sh*t. Howard NEEDS to make those saves. I know the D hasnt been helping him but his positioning and reaction is just off. Osgood should be prepared to go in in game 3. If Howard looks off Ossy has to go in. Anyways, i still thought we would win this series, i was just hoping it wouldnt take us 7 games because i knew it was gonna be tough. All these turnovers and mistakes, soft defense letting guys go right by them its like WTF? Play some freaken D! The wings dont deserve to win if they want to come out and play street hockey. At this point i dont see Howard doing anything, and i doubt Osgood can come in and play shut down goal. If we can get back to the passionate, SMART-gotta be SMART, puck controlling team that could offset the goaltending and get us thru this series, but to the Finals im sad to say i doubt it. Ive watch most the NHL playoff games, and the Wings have seriously looked the worst. I dont know how many times im thinking WTF when im watching them. I just dont understand how a great coached team plays like that. We'll see if they can man up in game 4.

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