DETROIT — It’s all about winning games according to Wings coach Mike Babcock and therefore he’s turning to Jonas Gustavsson between the pipes Friday in New Jersey.
“Well, I mean we’ve got to win games and he’s doing that right now for us so the bottom line is he’s starting,” Babcock said. “We’re going to watch the game and he’s been real good for us.”
Gustavsson is 7-0-1 this season with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage.
“He’s found a way to get hit by pucks and we’ve found a way to win now I don’t know if it’s cause we’ve relaxed more on the road or I don’t know the answer to those questions I just know we’re in the winning business, we need points,” Babcock said.
Howard allowed five goals on 33 shots on Wednesday as his record dipped to 6-8-6. His goals-against average ballooned to 2.70 and save percentage dipped to .909.
“I’m happy with all the starts I’m getting but I can’t relax and take it for granted,” Gustavsson said. “I’ve really got to fight for it. I’ve got to perform to keep getting those chances. I don’t think about anything else except playing as good as possible.”
It’s not the start that Howard wanted to get off to in the month of December after going 2-3-4 in November.
“I hope so,” Gustavsson said when asked if he’s pushing Howard. “That’s my goal, to try to push him and he’s definitely pushing me. I know I’ve got to play real well to even be considered playing in net. I’m just trying to do my part as any other guy on the team, trying to do as good as I can and try to push the other guys. It’s been working great so far.”
The injury bug has plagued Gustavsson his entire time in Detroit, mainly his groin.
Friday, Gustavsson will appear in his 10th game this season compared to playing in just seven a year ago.
“The more you play the more comfortable you’re going to get out there, but on the other hand, when you don’t play as much you’re always fresh coming into the game, too,” Gustavsson said.