Jimmy Howard Drinks Your Milkshake*

Man, oh man, wish he could be square to the shooter.

*The title of this post was, originally, That. Just. Happened. But after publishing, I saw Chris’ post at Nightmare on Helm Street with the same title, so I had to come back and change it. He beat me to it. Also, go read it. It’s epic.

First of all, condolences to my partner in crime, Rob, whose alma mater lost in the BCS Championship. I didn’t watch much of the game, but I understand Colt McCoy was out with an injury early, but Texas made a game of it, anyway. Sorry bud, that’s a tough one to swallow, I’m sure.

TPL’S TAKE
Are you effing kidding me, Jimmy Howard?!
What a performance. The best game by a Red Wings goaltender that I can remember. He absolutely stood on his head and stole that game for the Wings. There was a lot of nonsense being spouted on Twitter and elsewhere about how he looked doing it, even using “over-confident” as he kept the first FIFTY Kings shots out of the net. That’s flat out ridiculous. I don’t care how he looks doing it, as long as Howard keeps pucks on the happy side of the red line. No way Detroit deserved to win that game, and they absolutely do not without Jimmy Howard’s gutsy performance. He ended up saving 51 out of 52 shots against him.

Furthermore, do you think that Jimmy Howard came into this game with something to prove to himself and to Jonathan Quick? You may recall that Quick was selected as Team USA’s third goalie for the Olympics, a post that Howard’s numbers suggest he may have been a better selection. I know almost all of Red Wings Nation prefers Howard didn’t go to Vancouver for the Games, but I bet he has a tiny chip on his shoulder and he went into Quick’s barn and kicked over the lantern tonight. Sorry, Brian Burke, you screwed the pooch on that decision.

Danny Cleary had a great first game back. He was everywhere all night, not afraid to get a little dirty, and then he slams a Filppula rebound past Quick with — get this — 0.2 seconds left in the first period. His eighth of the season, and it was a big one. It almost stood up, too. More on that later.
At one point, Brian Rafalski totally bailed Howard out and prevented a sure-fire Ryan Smyth goal. It’ll be mentioned a lot, so I’ll say it here, too: the defense played extremely poorly all night, but also made a handful of necessary saves to keep it as close as it was. I’m not ready to give credit for that win to anyone but James Tiberius Howard, though.
Speaking of great defensive play, let’s talk about how Doug Janik had the opposite. It was his tenth game in the lineup and he looked positively brutal. There was a half-assed pass behind the net (to no one, by the way) that ended up on a King stick, followed by weak wristed passes, one after another. I don’t want to tempt the gods, but any of the defensemen coming back soon would be swell.
Ville Leino got a reprieve today, as Homer was sent back to Michigan with a fractured foot. Did he make the most of his opportunity? No, not really. I honestly can’t remember seeing him on the ice once. NHL.com tells me he played over nine minutes, but I think it’s lying to me.

There was an absolutely crazy flurry at the end of the second period, and Howard stood on his neck, head, hands, knees, wrists, and knuckles. The play ended with a Todd Bertuzzi penalty in the neutral zone (of course it did). At the end of the second period, the Kings already had 35 shots.

Speaking of Retuzzi, anyone care to guess where he was when the game-tying goal was scored by the Kings? If you guessed “in the box because he had another dumbass penalty away from the play and 200 feet from the Wings net,” collect your winnings.

But fear not. For every Todd Bertuzzi, there is a Darren Helm (one each…see what I did there?). On a clear, Jonathan Quick went to play the puck, but it hadn’t made it to the trapezoid yet before Darren Helm threw on the afterburners, and forced Quick to retreat without making a play. Helm then continued his strong play along the boards, eventually coming up with the puck, and burying it with 18 seconds left in the game. Game Winner. All by himself. I love him.

This is one of those games I was talking about when I suggested it’d be great if there was consistency from game to game regarding the officiating. In the first period, especially, there were some non-calls (for the Wings, and against them) that in almost any other game this season would have been penalized. It was insane, the things that the Wings and Kings were getting away with.

REVISITING THE PRE-GAME QUICK THOUGHTS
1. Well I think my thoughts on Jimmy Howard are clear. He rebounded from his worst performance in awhile to give us his best. Unlike last game, where he rarely knew where the puck was, he almost never seemed to lose sight of it tonight. No, it didn’t look pretty, but I never felt like he was struggling, fighting the puck, or unaware of the puck (except on that Smyth wrap-around that almost snuck in). I can’t wait to see who Babcock goes with in net for the Sharks game. It would be insane to go with Osgood after this performance, unless it was his plan all along. Howard could use a rest, I suppose, after seeing more rubber than I assure you he ever did with the ladies.
2. Chief thought it would be Nick’s night for a goal. Not yet.
3. I thought it would be Z’s night for a goal. Not quite.
4. We needed a win in regulation, and – thanks to Darren Helm – we got it. I was 18 seconds away from resigning to the fact that we should have been pleased with one point, but my boy Helm knocked some sense into me, and some rubber into Quick’s net.

Photo Credit: Gus Ruelas

11 thoughts on “Jimmy Howard Drinks Your Milkshake*”

  1. Bert had some good offensive plays, but had one of his weaker games defensively and though the call on him that lead to the tying goal was weak, he should have known better than enabling the ref to make it.

    I should mention though that the penalty at the end of the second was to Pasha, not Bert

  2. The Bert call was brutal, especially considering all the non-calls early. Yes, he got his stick parallel, but it was forced that way by a wedge.

    Still, the whole top line struggled. I think they did a pretty good job keeping the Kings' guys to the outside in their defensive zone, but didn't create more than two or three good chances at even strength. Lots of people want to blame Datsyuk alone for that. The nicest thing I can say in response to that is "I disagree".

    The big point though. Jimmy effin' Howard. Ho. Lee. Shit, that guy was awesome. I don't care what saves look like as long as they happen. I'm pretty sure I strained my butthole from clenching it so tightly in the second period.

  3. I'm with you on Jimmy. Outstanding performance. Super fun (and heart attack inducing) to watch. Yes, he needs to control the rebound better but the team needs to clear the puck better too.

    Helm was amazing too.

  4. Rough night for Pavs and Z but check out the size of the competition. Other than Bert, we just don't have the size or the beef up front. With the Mule, it would have been a little different out there. LA has only 4 forwards listed at under 6'0" and no defensemen. I thought we looked like munchkins in comparison. Luckily we had Jimmy and a very fast munchkin to win the game for us.

    And I noticed Ville on the ice a lot. Face down. On his back. Crushed against the boards on his side – right and left.

  5. @Andy – I think you're mistaken about the penalty. Pav got called 4 minutes into the second, but Tuzzi took a hooking call with 2:14 to play in the period. That's the one I'm referring to, immediately following that mad scramble.

    And you're 100% right. He should have known better on the 3rd period penalty. That call (as weak as it was) has been called all season (sadly). Unnecessary on his part, too.

    @JJ – I can't say I share your painful butt, however my arm is killing me this morning, and the only thing I can think of is how hard I swung when Helm scored.

    With regards to Pavel, I think he looked frustrated (thus the anti-Byng game), but as far as I can tell he's the only one on the top line that's 100%-ish. Zetterberg is probably going to take a few games to get his rhythm back, and the best Todd Bertuzzi can give you is like 9 or 10%.

    @Jenny – Ya know, I think the D is learning about Howard's rebound control problems. Earlier in the season, they just kind of stood around looking at the pucks careening off of him, but I think they're doing a good job of clearing (for the most part) now. Last night, however, no one could seem to get a read on the puck. It was like a dropped football for some reason. So you're right, his blueline had some issues helping him out.

    @Anon – I also noticed the size difference, particularly on a play in the third where Frolov and Rafalski were racing head-to-head. I had no idea Frolov was that large (or if he's just regular sized and Rafi is tiny). I can't say I'm surprised about Leino, but – like I said – I really don't remember seeing him at all.

  6. I think both of Bert's penalties were called by the far ref, so I hope you realize the irony in calling Bert out for penalties (which came out of scrambles) as well as inconsistent officiating =).

    I think Bert gets too much heat for the penalties. That second one wasn't great, but after hearing all offseason about how he takes dumb penalties I've been less than enthused to see how many he gets just for being Todd Bertuzzi. He literally cannot touch another player on the back without some ref assuming he's trying to hold him. That said, he needs to be smarter about getting his stick parallel. I've noticed he uses his stick to push and not hook at times, but as long as the refs see it horizontal with the ice he's going to the box, because he's Burt.

  7. @Andy and Kyle – Point taken, but at some point…and remember, this is coming from the PRO-tuzzi faction of TPL…Bertz needs to realize that whatever he's doing is landing him in the sin bin on a regular basis. Most of the time, Bertuzzi's goals justify the wonky means (blind spinning passes?). In this case, the ends point towards some needed adjustments.

  8. I know who it's coming from, just razzing him. Figured once he took the second penalty there would be something said here, but I was hoping when that goon Datsyuk took two it might get Tahd off the hook.

  9. Ha! I just saw these comments. I didn't see who called the penalties (mostly because I didn't care), but it's completely ridiculous when the far ref calls ANYTHING. I bet something's done about that either between seasons or at the next CBA when the rules are all flippity flopped again.

    You're on to something, Kyle. Neither of those penalties were of the "should be called" variety, but they HAVE been called all season so he's either gotta learn or stop putting his stick on people. Also, if we're all noticing he's a target, he noticed too (in theory…that's suggesting he, ya know, has some sort of cognitive ability).

    At this point, it's become comical more than anything. People EXPECT Bertuzzi-hate when I'm at the keyboard, and I'm happy to deliver. HA!

    Also, I've got a bet going with Andy and I reallllllly have no intention of losing.

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