Hockey fans in Motown were right to be concerned Saturday night when goaltender Jimmy Howard left Detroit's 4-2 win over Toronto favoring his left shoulder. With the playoffs approaching, and significant time missed could dealt a huge blow to the Red Wings' Stanley Cup hopes.
But the Wings received good news Sunday when preliminary tests show Howard had suffered only a sprain and that Howard himself thinks he could be back in action as soon as Wednesday, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press.
Howard initially left the game in the third period after the Maple Leafs' Joffrey Lupul fell on top of him. While backup Joey MacDonald held the fort for the rest of the game, Detroit would have sorely missed Howard's talents in an extended absence.
"My arm just got caught underneath him," Howard told reporters Sunday. "The way my glove was my arm didn't really spread out. He just landed on my shoulder."
This season Howard has solidified his place as the Wings' goalie of the future, winning 34 games -- the second most in the League. He was similarly impressive a year ago, going 37-15-10 with a 2.26 goals-against average in the 2009-10 season, but his play during the current campaign convinced Red Wings GM Ken Holland to reward Howard with a two-year contract extension this February, which will pay him $2.25 million per season.
MacDonald will be in net Monday when the Wings face the Blackhawks and the team will call up Thomas McCollum from Grand Rapids to back up, but Sunday's news seemed to indicate Howard's time lost would be minimal, with the 2010 Calder Trophy finalist speculating he would be back by mid-week.