This is such a debatable issue and, for good reason. There are those who support Jimmy and simply cannot understand why fans hate on him so much and then, on the flip side, there seem to be those who want Jimmy gone. Me- I am kind of in between. In the 2013 playoffs there is no doubt that Jimmy was a big reason for the Wings success. I mean we nearly made it to the conference finals. Jimmy has the ability to steal us games, see Chicago for instance. There is no doubt he is a good goalie. But what separates him from guys like Lunquivst, like it or not, is that he doesn't win the games that matter.
He has been our starter in the playoffs since 2010. Since then we have not made it past the 2nd round. Lets look at the playoffs since 2010:
2010: Lost in the 2nd round to the Sharks in 5 games. If memory serves me correctly, we were dominating game 3 of this series until Jimmy let it an awful goal by Heatly and we ended up losing that game and ultimately the series In that series, he let in quite a few soft goals.
2011: Lost in the 2nd round to the Sharks in 7 games. Jimmy was significantly better in these playoffs and cannot be faulted for losing this series We simply did not have enough guys going.
2012: 1st round loss to Nashville in 5 games. Embarssing series by the entire team. Unfortunate that this was Nick Lidstrom's last season. Jimmy was not very good as with the rest of the team.
Note for these 3 seasons, JImmy had excellent Dmen and still never got past the second round, like it or not he didn't.
2013: 2nd round loss to the Hawks in 7 games. Great playoffs by Jimmy.
2014: 1st round loss to Boston in 5 games. Jimmy did not play much, but was good in game 1 but was not good in game 2.
Now it is hard to assess on Jimmy in last year's playoffs but I can say I felt much more confident with Gus in net. As I said, I don't dislike Jimmy. He is a good goalie- not great. He is a team player, he never complains and is not afraid to get rough. All good qualities. BUT, he has never gotten us past the 2nd round in 4 years like it or not. Now I am not saying we need to get rid of him. But what I am saying is that I think this is going to be an important playoffs for him. Not necessarily whether we win the Cup or not but if he gives up bad goals at bad times, then I think the team might look at changes down the road. I am not basing this off of his last couple games because he just came back from injury and we all know he is far better than that. Realistically, however, this is a very important playoffs for Jimmy Howard in my opinion.