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Howard: 'This is the best I've felt'

by Craig Peterson / Detroit Red Wings

Goalie  - DET
Record: 21-19-11

GAA: 2.66 | Sv%: .910
DETROIT – Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard is healthy following an off-season spent in Michigan with his wife and two young sons, which is a good sign for coach Mike Babcock after a tough 2013-14 campaign.

“The reports I get on Howie is on how much work he’s done. You do the work, you’re rewarded,” Babcock said. “He’s done the work to prepare, he’ll be rewarded.”

Howard said the offseason was no different than past summers, but with a lockout-shortened season two years ago, and the Olympics in addition to conference realignment last season it made for a lot of hockey in a short span. Some much needed time off allowed for Howard to heal up in the summertime.

“This is the best I’ve felt in two to three years,” Howard said after a voluntary captain’s skate at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday. “I’m excited to get going.”

Howard’s health is good news following a season in which he dealt with lingering knee issues that sidelined him for multiple weeks in December and again in January. Just one of the many injuries that struck the team last year.

“It’s been weird the last several years, the way we’ve been hit with the injury bug,” Howard said. “I think that’s why it’s a key to the season for all of us, especially our top guys of staying out there on the ice.”

Howard would certainly like to improve from last season’s numbers in which he posted a .910 save percentage and 2.66 goals-against average. Marks that should be attainable if he can start the season strong.

“The reason you talk about the start is because confidence is a fleeting thing,” Babcock said. “If you’re a goalie after 10 games your numbers are pretty good, it’s way easier to relax.”

A short memory is key for a goaltender and Howard won’t let last year’s performance hinder him in the months that follow.

“Each year is different, you just have to go out there and play,” he said. “You have to control what you can control and I think I’ve done that this offseason.”

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