Five Questions: Jimmy Howard still working hard

Monday, 12.09.2013 / 12:00 PM
Dan Rosen  - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com's weekly Q&A feature called "Five Questions With ..." runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard:

Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has played goalie Jonas Gustavsson ahead of Jimmy Howard in three out of the four games the team has played this month. It's hard to blame him.

The one time Howard was in he allowed five goals in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Red Wings went 2-1-0 and yielded five goals in total in Gustavsson's three starts.

Howard is 1-4-4 with a 2.92 goals-against average and .903 save percentage in his past nine starts. The one win was a 29-save shutout against the New York Islanders, but he's allowed three or more goals in six of the starts, including four or more in four of them.

Babcock, though, isn't bailing on Howard as Detroit's No. 1 goalie. He said recently that the team only will go as far as Howard takes it.

"I'm 100 percent with that, but sometimes that takes longer," Babcock said. "I remember one winter when [Howard] played the whole winter to get [Chris Osgood] ready in the playoffs. We've lived this before. I remember when [Osgood] was playing and [Dominik Hasek] wasn't and we were trying to get Dom going. We've lived this in Detroit lots of times. We've got to win games."

Howard is expected to get back in the net Tuesday when the Red Wings play at the Florida Panthers. He spoke to NHL.com about his recent struggles and how it might affect his chance to play for the United States in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Here are Five Questions With…Jimmy Howard:

How would you assess your play and the way it's gone for you so far this season?

"It hasn't been going quite as planned, as I would have hoped, but every player goes through stretches like this no matter what they're dealing with. You have to remind yourself that you've got to keep working, that you do have the talent and skill to be out there and eventually you just come out of it."

Mike Babcock has said, 'We're going to go as far as Howie will take us.' What does that do for you, to know that he's got your back?

"It's reassuring. It definitely is. When the boss around here says that, it says that he has a lot of confidence in me. That's a good thing to have. The month of October went really well for me and just for some reason in November the wheels, I don't know why, they started to fall off there. They did and we're trying to put everything back together here piece by piece."

In going over your game on video with your goalie coach Jim Bedard, what have you deduced as to why it has been a struggle for you?

"To be honest with you I haven't switched much. I try to play the same way night in and night out. It's just that for some reason pucks continue to go in. It's something we have to work our way through and remind myself to continue playing the way I've gotten to be successful in this League, and that's being out of my crease, reading the plays well and anticipating well."

Can you recall a stretch like this in the past, be it in college at Maine, in the minors with Grand Rapids or in Detroit?

"No, not really. It's something new, but like I said, every player goes through something like this at some point in their career and you've just got to keep going. You can't let it get you down."

The natural speculation is that you've struggled because the Olympics are on your mind. Are you thinking about the Olympics? And what do you think of your chances of making the U.S. team?

"No, it's definitely not true. There's more than enough going on around here to keep your mind off of the Olympics. Put it this way: If I take care of business here than everything else will just take care of itself. First and foremost I'm just trying to go out there and get wins for this team.

"I can't allow myself to think about that right now. Right now it's about getting back to playing the way I played the previous two seasons."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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