DETROIT >> Jimmy Howard has pinpointed the problem he’s had of late between the pipes, tracking the puck with his eyes.
“After going over the video tape and talking to goalie coach Jim Bedard it’s just following the puck with my eyes,” Howard said. “It’s just that simple. With a goalie, if you’re not following the puck to the best of your abilities and you’re behind that split second it can make a difference.”
And because of it Howard has lost his starting job for now to Petr Mrazek.
“Everyone goes through this during the course of a season,” Howard said. “Maybe it’s a little blessing in disguise that it’s happening now and not 2-3 weeks from now.
“It’s just about working hard out on the ice,” Howard continued. “Continue to do the right things in practice and then it’ll just fall right into place in the games. When you’re out there, waiting for things to happen that’s when the puck’s going to do crazy things. You just have to go out there and play. For me the last couple of games, following the puck and using my eyes more, that’s been the issue.”
Howard has allowed eight goals on 32 shots in slightly over four periods the past two games.
“It’s not mechanically at all, but I guess in a sense it is,” Howard said. “It’s following the puck. That’s key. Especially when you get big bodies in front of you, you’ve got to focus on the puck. You can’t lose sight of the puck. Pucks are going to go in in the NHL. We all know that. It’s about brushing it off and trying to make that next save for the guys.
“I want to be out there every single night, just like everyone else when you get to this level,” Howard added. “One of the things that drives you is competing. It never sits well when I’m sitting on the bench. I want to be out there every single night. Coach feels I don’t deserve it. Maybe it’ll be a good thing to just put in a little bit of work here.”
Howard brushed off the talk about the talk of who’s the team’s number one goalie, but Mrazek did not.
“I’m know Howie is still number one I’m sure,” said Mrazek, who’ll start Saturday when the Wings host Tampa Bay. “He’s proven himself for so many years. This year he’s been great. Sometimes it’s hard for goalies when nothing hits you and everything goes in. You come back. I don’t think we should talk about the No. 1 goalie. I think that’s for sure it’s Howie.”
Howard allowed three goals on 10 shots in the first period of Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the San Jose Sharks and was replaced by Mrazek to start the second.
“I don’t think it’s a confidence issue at all,” Howard said. “I think it really is the minor thing of following the puck and not losing sight of it out there. That can make up for a split second. When you lose the puck out there you, you’re behind the play for a second and that can be the difference.”
Howard, who turned 31 on Thursday, has been very inconsistent since returning in mid-February from a groin injury.
He was easily one of the reasons why the Wings are where they’re at now because of his strong play to start the season.
“It’s not all on him,” Darren Helm said. “We’re giving up too many chances. The good thing about Jimmy is he’s going to come and play now it’s just a matter of time. Right now he’s going through a little stretch like the whole team is going through it. We have to find a way to battle hard through it and get ourselves back on track.”
Detroit is 3-7-1 in its past 11 games.