DETROIT -- Jimmy Howard
will start in net for the 16th straight game and 20th time in 23 games when the Red Wings face the Lightning tonight (7:30 p.m., Versus, TSN2).
Backup Ty Conklin
hasn’t started since Oct. 25, when the Wings lost on the road to the Columbus Blue Jackets
, the second loss of what turned out to be a six-game winless skid. Babcock doesn't seem all that concerned about Howard getting burned out with so much action so soon in the season, though.
In fact, when asked about it after Wednesday's skate at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings coach sounded just a little sarcastic about his decision.
"What I did is, I kind of went through the League's stats and I saw all these goalies playing around 19 games (total) and I noticed Howie had played 19, so I thought he was playing good so … keep playing him," Babcock said. "Eventually, Conks is going to get an opportunity to play. Howie's going good. We like what he's doing. We think he's a young guy and he can play a lot."
Aside from letting in four goals in 39 minutes in a loss to the San Jose Sharks
on Nov. 17, Howard has been solid-to-great through his streak of starts.
"He's earned the right over time to be a good goaltender in the League," Babcock said. "He spent a lot of time in the minors, he's worked on his fitness, the mental side of his game seems to have really come and he just seems to be a good goaltender in the League. We get excellent goaltending right now -- as good as we've had since I've been here, for sure."