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Howard enduring a spring blizzard

by Roger Phillips
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Through the first two games of Detroit's Western Conference Semifinal Jimmy Howard has been enduring his own private blizzard.

In Game 1, Howard was the recipient of a Joe Pavelski snow shower, and when he retaliated with a poke at the Sharks center, both players were assessed roughing minors.

It was even snowier during the Red Wings' 2-1 loss to the Sharks at HP Pavilion on Sunday. Howard was snowed under four times, including a return engagement by Pavelski and a whiteout courtesy of Joe Thornton.

Though Howard did not retaliate this time, the Red Wings were not happy. Captain Nicklas Lidstrom, in fact, said an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty was merited and probably would put an end to the barrage of snowflakes that keeps landing on Howard.

Lidstrom said as much to the officials.

"We mentioned it several times to them," he said after Sunday's loss. "I don't know why they keep allowing them to do it. We keep telling the refs. It's up to the refs. They could stop it right away by calling it and it's pretty obvious that they're trying to do it. It's really easy for the refs to do something about that."

Wings coach Mike Babcock bit his tongue when asked about the snowstorms.

"This is what I've thought over the years," he said. "Every time I make a comment about any of this stuff it's just come back to bite me in the butt. But I think that's a really good question."

Sharks coach Todd McLellan came off after the game as an anti-snow shower activist. But he also pleaded innocent on behalf of his players.

"I'll tell you what," McLellan said. "When it comes to snow showers, I have no time for gimmicks or that type of crap. If our players are doing that, they're going to hear from me first.

"But they're going to hear from me even more when they don't go to the net and stop on a loose puck. When you go back and look at them, pucks are bouncing around. They get to choose. They know it's not a circus and they know it's not a gong show. We want them going to the blue paint, just like the other team is."

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