By Ashley Dunkak

JOE LOUIS ARENA (CBS DETROIT) – Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard endured a relatively rough season, and it ended ugly – not just with losses in Games 2 and 3, but in a more literally gruesome fashion.

When Detroit announced Howard would not start Game 4, rumors abounded. Some believed Howard had simply been benched in favor of backup Jonas Gustavsson. Others thought perhaps Howard had sustained a concussion.

Howard confirmed Tuesday – with cannot-make-that-up kind of detail – that it was indeed the flu that kept him off the ice.

“The flu that keeps you in the bathroom for a long time, for about 30 hours,” Howard said with a grimace, “so it wasn’t fun.

“It all started about 1 o’clock in the afternoon, and it just progressively got worse,” Howard explained. “Training staff and medical staff tried to give me all the medication for myself to go out there and play for the guys, but as I got out there in warmups, everything just got worse and worse. I missed most of the game because I was too busy in the toilet area. It’s tough to go out that way.”

More worrisome to most than Howard’s absence for Game 4, however, was his overall performance in the 2013-2014 season. A target of criticism often in recent weeks, Howard himself did not seem particularly pleased with his play.

“It was an okay season,” Howard said. “By no means was it a good or great season. I think I can be a lot better, a lot more consistent for the guys, and that’s what I’m going to work on over the course of the summer.”

Howard recorded a .910 save percentage, down from each of the past two seasons. He also recorded a 2.66 goals against average, a significant bump from either of the previous two seasons, when he averaged 2.13 and 2.12.

“I can be a lot better across the board, just with consistency alone and going out there and helping guys get wins,” Howard said. “It was just one of those years, statistically wise it wasn’t very good. I think I can be a lot better. I’ve proven in the past I can be a lot better, and that’s the way I want to be moving forward.”




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