Ok, how's this for manipulating numbers:
Howard's save percentage has dropped by .014 from the regular season to the playoffs, despite the fact that in game 4 he had a shutout and in game 5 he stopped 30 of 31 for a .968%. From the start of game 4 to the end of game 5, Howard posted a .983%. and a .50 GAA on a SAPG of 30.
That's a stellar pair of games to be sure. But let's contrast that with his other four games, which work out to .875% and a 4.05 GAA with a SAPG of 32.
OH NO! A ROOKIE GOALTENDER ISN'T USED TO THE PLAYOFFS! HOW COULD WE HAVE FORSEEN THIS!?!?!
What exactly was so different in the other four games? If you say the defense, I will point out the fact that at least three or four separate times in those four games the defense stopped the Yotes from putting the puck into an otherwise empty net while Howard was down and out. So while the defense may have made some mistakes, they also came to the rescue more than a few times.
They still aren't putting the puck in the net. 2 goals on average (talking about the 3 losses) doesn't win you hockey games.
Was it how the Yotes played? Were they just not able to finish the chances like normal in 4 and 5? Well, if that's the case, then games 4 and 5 were statistical aberrations and don't reflect Howard's true level of play in those games, meaning his stats in 1-3 and 6 are more indicative of how he has been performing.
I don't think anyone believes this. The Wings as a team were better than the Yotes in their wins, and visa versa for their losses. It's probably more black and white than any other series I have seen yet.
Howard is a damn good goalie, and I have been saying he would be for years now. But he is not perfect, nor is he immune from criticism. And he certainly has not played well for most of this series. At this point I think Howard starts but is on a short leash with regards to quick goals and bad goals if the Wings are down, but Babcock likely rides Howard out until the end if the Wings have a good lead.
Howard is on no leash. His backup is currently blending into the Wings bench like Bootstrap Bill and there is no chance he will be game ready in time for the Wings to make any kind of push for a series win, let alone a game 7.
Also people have been plenty critical of Howard.
But one final fact before you give me the "Howard's a rookie" thing. Jimmy Howard is an experienced professional, and he is 26 years old with a 37-15-10 record, which translates to a 32-18-12 record without the shootout, 3 shutouts, and a Calder nomination.
Last time I checked you need to be a rookie to be eligible for the calder. So it's not valid?
Not including the part of the 98-99 season played when Ozzie hit his 26th birthday, he had a 132-52-30 record (W-L-T), 20 shutouts, a Vezina nomination and second-team All-Star selection, and had won a Cup as a starter and one as a backup. As far as the Calder, Osgood had the misfortune of having the same rookie year as Brodeur, yet still got votes for Calder and All-Rookie team.
This isn't relevant information. Actually, it is. Just wait a minute...
Howard shouldn't be making rookie mistakes, and he shouldn't be allowed the "he's a rookie" excuse; he played 186 games with the Griffins and 9 with the Wings before he joined the team full time. He played 30 playoff games with the Griffins also.
Howard has 9 games of NHL experience at 26. Osgood had over 200. If you cannot understand the difference between playing at the AHL and the NHL level, then there really is no reasoning with you. Nothing prepares you for the NHL season, or playoffs for that matter. The only way to be ready is to play the games. That's why AHL stats aren't brought up when talking about a player's playoff experience. Nobody cares.
It's not like he hasn't played under pressure, and he has had five years as a pro in the Wings' system, being specifically groomed as the Wings' goalie of the future. Anyone who blindly tolerates mistakes from Howard should be doing the same for Ericsson, Meech, and anyone else 26 and under. These guys have had years to develop, sure they will make mistakes, but they are not 20 year old rookies with under 100 pro games played who are being thrown into the fire of the playoffs like Ozzie was in 1994.
Blindly tolerates? Everyone is aware of Howard's faults, and has given him criticism for those faults (especially in game 3). However everyone is grounded in reality, knowing that putting in Osgood would be putting in a goaltender who is not ready to play in the playoffs. It worked in 08 because they had even playing time and Osgood was in game-shape. He is not in game shape now and his 2 or so starts this year proved that.