By: Jeff Riger
As the Wings continue to try and shock the hockey world, a lot has been made about their goalie Jimmy Howard. Howard, who has played exceptionally well lately, is in the process of becoming the first goal tender in a long time that the entire fan base thinks is getting the job done. It has been days since a listener has called in to trash the net minder. And if Detroit upsets Chicago in the Western Conference Semi-Finals then Howard, no doubt, will be not only be accepted but also revered in the area.
The team was back at practice on Wednesday morning as they prepare for game four of the series and Howard was the talk of the media session. After game three, Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg wondered out loud to the media if people will now stop wondering if Howard can steal a playoff game, as he stopped 39 of 40 Blackhawk shots on Monday night. I then asked Howard if he believed he stole the game and, of course, he gave credit to his team mates, something you would expect him to say.
Today I asked Zetterberg how he feels about Detroit fans’ reaction to his net minder and he said, “I don’t hear that much but I do hear some things, and most of the time it’s about our goalies in this city. I don’t know if it’s tradition here that you’re not really believing in your goaltending, but I don’t know what he needs to do to get people believing in him. We in here know he’s a really good goalie, he has shown that all year and he’s taking a step every game to becoming a better goalie.”
Head coach Mike Babcock also was asked about his team’s net minder and said, “From the time I’ve been here to now, we need better goaltending now than we ever did. He’s providing it for us. We don’t ever talk about out goaltending; you only talk about goaltending when it’s no good. We probably should talk about it more I guess because it is good.”
As for Howard; he is well aware of the criticism that comes with being a goalie in Detroit but he doesn’t let it faze him. Howard had Chris Osgood as his mentor, who taught him to never listen to what people are saying, especially on the radio. But does he? Does Howard sometimes tune in 97.1 The Ticket after a game to listen to the postgame show? “Yeah, right, do I turn you guys on? Not a chance. Usually the whole ride home is spent talking to my mom and dad.”
Do you believe him? I’m not sure I do. Listen to the entire Jimmy Howard interview during the first intermission of game four on 97.1 FM. Howard talks a lot about how it is to be a goalie in this town and deal with the criticism that comes along with it.