Tuesday’s game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings hasn’t been kind to the goaltenders. First, it was Lightning netminder Ben Bishop who was forced to leave the game with an apparent lower-body injury in the first period, and just minutes into the second frame, Red Wings starter Jimmy Howard appears to have sustained an ugly injury to his right leg.
Howard’s injury came on a break up the ice by the Lightning, but it’s the contact of his own teammate that may be to blame. As Tampa Bay controlled the puck on a deep-zone 2-on-1, a pass was thrown across the ice by Tyler Johnson onto the tape of Erik Condra, who pulled the puck back across his body, causing Howard to stretch his body out. With Howard stretching to make the save, Red Wings defenseman Nick Jensen bowled into the crease before he and Condra landed on the Detroit netminder.
Almost instantly, Howard, 32, was writhing on the ice in pain, clutching at his right knee as Drew Miller motioned to the Detroit bench for help. Eventually Howard would climb to his feet, but as he was helped off the ice, he wasn’t putting any weight on his right leg:
If Howard’s injury is anywhere near as serious as it appeared to be, it could be an absolutely devastating blow for the Red Wings.
Entering the season, Detroit was set to go with Petr Mrazek as their starter, with many considering Howard to be trade or expansion draft fodder. However, Howard took the starting reins less than a month into the season as Mrazek struggled, and the veteran netminder has been nothing short of outstanding since. In 16 games this season, Howard is boasting a stellar 1.95 goals-against average — good for seventh in the NHL — and sat behind only Carey Price, Matt Murray, Antti Raanta and Devan Dubnyk with a tremendous .934 save percentage.
And even for as much as the Red Wings have struggled, were it not for Howard’s play, the start to the Red Wings’ season realistically could have been much worse. Only four teams have generated less offense than Detroit, who have a mere 74 goals through 32 games, and no starting goaltender in the league has received less goal support than Howard. In 16 appearances entering Tuesday, the Red Wings had scored just 1.37 goals per 60 minutes with Howard in goal.
No updates were immediately available on Howard’s condition, but it seems unlikely he’ll return to Tuesday’s game.
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