Hey, kids, guess what? Hockey's almost here. That means it's time for me to get back into this whole blogging thing that I've neglected during the off-season. Since I lack the creativity to come up with a new gimmick, I decided to continue the Player Profiles series I did last year leading up to the season. I'll be taking a look at a different player (almost) every day between now and when hockey starts. By my count, there are 16 days until the Wings open the regular season. Get excited. Today's subject:
2009-2010 Regular Season: 63 GP, 37-15-10, 3 SO, 2.26 GAA, 0.924 SV%
2010 Playoffs: 12 GP, 5-7, 1 SO, 2.75 GAA, 0.915 SV%
Season Highlight: His brilliant game against LA. His facewash of Sidney Crosby comes in a close second.
Season Lowlight: The first month of the season
Nobody was a bigger surprise last season than Jimmy Howard. I entered the year with very low expectations for him and figured he was a stop-gap solution until one of the Wings' younger goaltending prospects was ready to relieve Chris Osgood. Instead, Howard ended up taking over the starting job and playing brilliantly during the second half of the season. He should've won the Calder. I'll believe that for as long as I live.
This year, he'll face the dreaded sophomore slump. He's much older than your typical NHL sophomore, and he's had plenty of college and pro experience, so I'm optimistic that he'll be okay. That being said, goaltending is my biggest concern heading into this season. The Wings need him to play like he did down the stretch last season, not like he did at the beginning of the year. The team's stacked enough that they don't need hom to stand on his head every night, but he needs to make the stops that count.
What he needs to do to make me smile: Avoid the sophomore slump.