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Having a Blast

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

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Jimmy Howard had quite the jam-packed, event-filled weekend at the NHL’s All-Star game in Ottawa.

First, the Red Wings’ goaltender had the privilege of being at his first All-Star extravaganza with his wife, Rachel, and three-month-old son, James Russell IV by his side for all of the hoopla.

Then from Thursday’s player draft to Saturday’s skills competition, where he was paired against Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick in the fastest-skating goalies category and beyond, Howard had a blast.

“I almost went down on that first turn and I said, ‘forget about this,’ ” said Howard, who wore a helmet-cam to capture the on-ice action. “I didn’t want to be the guy to take out those tires.”

And after winning a spirited game of rock, paper, scissors against Montreal goalie Carey Price to determine the Team Chara starter for Sunday’s marquee game, Howard enjoyed his one-period of work, even stopping the league’s leading goal-scorer on a penalty shot.
“It’s par for the course, I mean, why not?” said Howard of stopping Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos.

And yes, why not? After all, Howard has already faced three penalty shots this season – four if you include Sunday’s. And he even faced one in his NHL debut against the Kings’ Joe Corvo on Nov. 28, 2005.

“The first NHL game, the first All-Star game,” he said with a laugh. “That seems that they’ve always happened.”

Penalty shot aside, Howard said the whole process was pretty cool. And while he was glad for the opportunity, one particular skills event provide the Wings’ goalie with a glimpse inside his world.

“The hardest shot just because I got to see how crazy I am,” Howard said. “When you have some of these guys who look like they’re barely even firing it and it’s over 100 (miles per hour), I’m just shaking my head and wondering why do I even stand in front of these guys?”

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