The Detroit Red Wings' injury-filled season just keeps rolling on. Monday night, goaltender Jimmy Howard left in the middle of the game with an apparent injury to the same knee he sprained in December. He was replaced by Petr Mrazek after leaving the game at the 10:40 mark and did not return.
Howard was on the shelf for eight games after that first knee injury and if his latest health issue is of the serious variety, his position for the U.S. Olympic team could be in serious jeopardy.
The Olympic hockey tournament begins Feb. 12 and all teams have until the night before the tournament begins to make alterations to their roster. Howard may have time to recover, but the U.S. brass is likely considering their options at this very moment.
It's been a rather dreadful year for Howard with his injury woes and he has struggled even when healthy. He seemed to be getting back to normal however over the last two weeks.
Howard has posted a 9-12-8 record, 2.64 goals-against average and .916 save percentage this year, well below expectations.
"Howie just got himself going," Babcock told reporters after the game. "He had a tough first half obviously. Someone else [now] gets the opportunity. It's the NHL, we can whine all we want about injuries. They happen."
If Howard is out any amount of time, it puts the Wings in a real goaltending bind. Backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, who has been very good in relief of Howard this year, is already on injured reserve. Mrazek is a promising young prospect, but now Detroit's organizational depth at the position is going to be thrown for a loop, with the trickle down impacting the minor league clubs greatly as well.
The Red Wings are beginning to resemble their AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, more and more each game. Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Ericsson, Gustavsson, Johan Franzen, Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson are all out with injuries. Babcock seems to be taking it in stride and not making excuses, but this is getting a little ridiculous for the folks in Detroit.