i don't think howard has played bad this year. however, i do think he is below his level of play the last few season. and now that he has that fairly large contract, he is looked at to be a guy that can make saves and win games. we often look at goals and say 'well it was the defensemans fault the goalie had no chance' and thats understandable, but to me, elite goalies are the ones making saves they have no business getting to. i always think back to those playoff series we had against the flames and kiprusoff... that dude made saves that no one should have made. and that to me is what defines a top level goalie. they not only stop all the shots they are expected to, but also some that they aren't.
for several years our D has been bad and we have given up way too many odd man chances the last few years. and i feel howie has always gotten his share of saves that were of the elite quality. thats why i have always been a supporter when others haven't been. we look at some softies or something but ignore all the high quality saves he wouldnt have t make if our defense wasnt swiss cheese.
so with that said, i think he's just been ok. however, gustafsson has been good. i think a lot has been luck with rebounds and posts and all that, but a lot of times, thats all a goalie needs. personally, i think they should continue to give gustafsson a decent amount of starts. let howard rest. he has played a lot of games the last few seasons and i feel it hurts us in the playoffs. let him get rest now so at the end of the year he hasnt been in 65+ games again.
howard will get out of this funk eventually. hopefully the wings have enough healthy forwards to win some games between now and then!