Goalies on terrible teams are going to shine more than goalies on great teams because of the sheer amount of chances they have against them. I have made more highlight reel saves against awesome teams because of all the chances they get to score. It doesn't make me superhuman though.
I spent more time on skates growing up then in shoes. Plenty have. But this is the NHL. If you're a goalie in the NHL, let alone a starting goalie on one of the top teams, it is reasonable to expect a goalie to be better than Howard has been this year. I don't care what team you're playing for, what injuries said team may have and what defensive issues may exist, when you have to go into a game expecting that 4 goals will be scored against you, there's a real problem.
That said, the defense has been terrible, sure, but the reality of the matter is that we are not the only team that has defensive issues. Plenty of other teams struggle far more than we do with the stupid mistakes and they don't have the talent to at times compensate for it. Yet somehow, even the terrible teams seem to have goalies outplaying Howard more often than not lately. I'm not one of the one's calling for his head, and I've got faith that he'll recover in due time, but let's be honest here...defensive breakdowns or not, Howard's had a rough year, and if he can't get it going, unless Babcock goes with Osgood, we're toast come playoff time.
It is stupid to blame every goal on him, and he isn't getting much help, but any way you shake it, he hasn't played well and he's absolutely got to play a lot better. You need your goalie to compensate for some of the inevitable defensive breakdowns. Again, I really like the guy and I'm not throwing in the towel by any means, but this year, he's simply not playing well at all.
I do have to admit that you are right on one count though. Howard does have to make a big save or two in every game. Yes, blown coverages are going to happen. Its the goaltender that can make that big save or two that bolsters the confidence of the team in front of him.
Howard was lights out last season in the last 25 games. He needed to be and the Wings rallied around that. In the playoffs though, he didn't deliver his best games which was concerning. As you say before, I am not blaming every goal on Howard like 75% of the LGW forum members do, but that is what I tire of to be honest.
The LGW members are considered to be true fans of the Wings and the game of hockey. In the last few years, this has not been my experience. Most of them are quick to jump all over the players if they make a mistake or the goaltender for every goal that goes in. Be damned if the goal was scored by an uncovered player on the other side of the net, a tip, or a deflection he had no chance to stop.
Excellent analogy though. Thanks for your well thought out response.
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