DETROIT – Danny Cleary came up with the best word to describe Jimmy Howard of late … “feisty.”
“You don’t want to be jamming at the wrong guy,” Cleary said after practice Tuesday. “The next thing you know, something happens to you that you don’t want to happen to you. That’s good for him. Sticking up for himself, he’s trying to keep people out of the crease.”
With 1.5 seconds left in Monday’s 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues, Howard took exception to Alex Pietrangelo taking a two hander to his midsection after making a save. The Wings goalie took a swing at Pietrangelo before having a bit of a go with David Backes.
The two Blues each got two minutes for roughing and 10-minute misconducts. Howard received a single roughing penalty.
“You don’t want to see your goalie doing that all the time because he may go after the wrong guy,” Drew Miller said. “It’s good to see he’s got that competitiveness in him. He doesn’t want to get bumped around or hit with a stick.
“I think the guys on our team aren’t known for fighting, but guys get in between him and the player because it’s only going to go so far,” Miller added. “He picks his spots. In a game that was physical last night a guy gave him a shot in the chest and Howie gave him a shot back. He’s standing up for himself. You don’t always want your goalie doing it, but there’s a time and a place where you gave give a little push or a shove.”
“He hits guys,” Johan Franzen grinned. “We’re laughing. It’s fun to see him standing up for himself, hitting guys. Good for him. I think he likes it. Whatever works for him, keep doing it.”
“He plays with a lot of emotion,” Henrik Zetterberg said. “When it heats up like that he’s so focused that when someone punches him he’ll punch back. I’m glad he has a lot of padding on him. I’d rather see other guys standing up for him, but sometimes we don’t have enough time to get in there, he’ll go there first.”
“I think it’s great,” Niklas Kronwall said. “He’s got a little fire in him. He stands up for himself. He’ll be fine.”
Howard became an instant fan favorite when he face washed Pittsburgh’s Sydney Crosby back on March 23, 2010.
“I take responsibility for what I do,” Howard said. “I’m not dumb about it. I’m not going to do it if it’s 2-1 or something like that or when it can be a changing point in the game. With 1.5 seconds left there’s nothing wrong with defending yourself in that aspect.”
Howard joked later that he’s just following in his mentors’ footsteps. Mike Vernon and Chris Osgood both fought Patrick Roy during their time with the Wings and both fights are all over youtube.
“I learned from them, it’s just a trickledown effect,” Howard joked. “I saw (my highlight) this morning. When you’re watching yourself you kind of feel stupid and I look like it for a time sitting there going nuts in the crease. It was the heat of the moment so you’ve got to do it, stick up for yourself.”