By: Will Burchfield
After getting shelled in his first rehab start, Jimmy Howard was injured in his second.
Not quite the smooth recovery the Red Wings were hoping for.
Working his way back from a sprained right knee, which has sidelined him for almost two months, Howard re-aggravated the injury on Wednesday night while tending goal for the Grand Rapids Griffins, Pete Wallner reported.
Per Wallner, Howard “made a sprawling save” that left him on his back midway through the third period against Manitoba and was lifted at the next whistle. He went straight to the locker room to be evaluated by team doctors.
“He felt a little tweak,” Red Wings GM Ken Holland told Wallner.
Griffins coach Todd Nelson said he removed Howard from the game as a “precautionary” measure.
“We don’t think the injury – if it even is an injury – is very serious,” Nelson said, via Wallner. “It was one of those things that when you get injured, like you did before this, sometimes things happen and you kind of get scared that it happened again. But we don’t think that’s the case.”
“He was flexing his knee, the same knee that he injured, so that’s why it scared him,” Nelson added.
Howard had planned to start at least two more games for the Griffins, who play at Iowa on Friday and Saturday night. For now, though, he is being re-evaluated in Detroit.
“We’re going to take him back home to see our doctor and hopefully he gives him the green light to go back and join the team in Iowa,” Holland told Wallner. “But we’ll see what they say (Thursday) morning.”
Howard showed improvement in his second rehab start after allowing five goals on 29 shots in his first. He stopped 16 of 17 shots versus Manitoba before being lifted with 10:53 remaining.
“I thought he looked smooth,” Holland said. “The team played good, didn’t have a ton of scoring chances. He obviously didn’t have the work (like Saturday), but I thought Grand Rapids played tight defensively and didn’t give up a lot.”
Prior to his original injury on Dec. 20, Howard ranked fourth in the NHL in both save percentage (.934) and goals against average (1.96). The Red Wings have struggled to find consistent goaltending since.
More on this story to come.