DETROIT – Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard can’t wait for the month of November to be over.
Howard won’t have more than one more start in the month since backup Jonas Gustavsson will start Wednesday night at home against the
“It hasn’t gone as good as Howie would have liked,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Let’s be clear about this: We’re going as far as Howie takes us. We have an elite goalie and it hasn’t gone as good. It happens for players when they don’t score, but when you’re a goalie and it happens for you, the spotlight’s on you because it affects everyone.
“In saying that, we’ll give him a breather to work with (coach) Jimmy (Bedard), we’ve started that before,” Babcock continued. “It’s good that Gus got us a win so we could go back to him. He gets a little breather and he’ll be back in the right after that and we’ll go from there.”
After winning his first start on the first day of November, Howard has gone 0-3-4 the rest of the month.
“I thought the season started off good, it’s just been the month of November that hasn’t been very kind,” Howard said after practice Tuesday at Joe Louis Arena. “It’s just something I have to work through. It’s just something I have to deal with.”
Over his last seven games, Howard has a 3.03 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage. He entered the month with a 2.50 GAA and .915 save percentage.
“Maybe I’ve put a little too much on my plate, trying too much on my plate, trying to go out there and make everything look so great,” Howard said. “For me personally, I just have to concentrate on going out and stopping pucks.”
The seven-game winless streak is the longest of his career. His previous longest winless streak was five games (March 4-30, 2012) when he went 0-4-1.
“It’s just the way it’s going right now,” Howard said. “I can’t really put my finger on it, but I’m not going to get down about it, that’s for sure. You get a win, you get on a little bit of roll and this will all be forgotten about.”
Gustavsson has yet to lose in regulation (5-0-1) and has beaten the Bruins, in Boston, already this season.
Gustavsson was between the pipes when the Wings handed Colorado its first loss of the season after six straight wins, and when Detroit ended a season-high seven-game winless streak last Thursday.
The backup has been plagued with injuries, mainly groin, since signing with the Wings.
“I had no background with him, I just heard,” Babcock said of his backup goalie. “So when a guy comes to you and he’s hurt every day and never plays and you’re in 46-game schedule, playing for your life and your goalie is playing good you don’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about the other goalie. You just don’t. I’m learning about him now. He’s a guy that has made some huge saves for us and I’m hoping he keeps the puck from going underneath him. He’s been great. That’s the biggest challenge I see, but he’s done a good job. I don’t think you can ask more about your second goaltender than what we’ve got this year.”