DETROIT – The Sharks have tried to rattle the Red Wings goalie in this series. And as one famed Canadian analyst sees it, San Jose players have gone to despicable lengths to disrespect Jimmy Howard.
But Howard isn’t going to allow the Sharks, nor the media attention, to become a distraction when the Western Conference semifinals series resumes with Wednesday’s Game 3 at Joe Louis Arena.
“They’re just trying to get under my skin,” Howard said. “I don’t care. They can come in and pitchfork me, snow-shower me. I don’t care.”
Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton are just two Sharks who have given snow-showers to Howard in front of the Wings’ net during Games 1 and 2 at HP Pavilion.
Opposing players have always taken the liberty of covering goalies – most of the time the goalie is in a prone position, covering up a loose puck in the crease – with ice shavings by coming to a hard stop. The cascading snow gets in the goalie’s mask and down his jersey making for an uncomfortable chilly feeling.
Even though such actions are not a punishable offense, by rule, CBC’s Don Cherry calls the Sharks’ tactics, “The ultimate distain.”
“If you ever did it on Grant Fuhr, if you ever did it on Billy Smith, if you ever did it on Gerry Cheevers, you would not finish the game,” continued Cherry, on last Saturday’s “Coach’s Corner” first-intermission segment. “Absolutely ridiculous that you do that. In the old days you would not finish the game if you did that.”
Howard wanted nothing to do with the subject when asked about it following Tuesday’s practice at Joe Louis Arena.
“They can do whatever they want,” he said. “They’re not going to take me off my game.”
Throughout the first two games, Sharks players have charged to the Wings’ crease, and with a quick stop just in front of Howard, their skates send ice up into the air, and into the goaltender’s face and down his jersey.
The lone penalty from the spraying issue came in Game 1, when Howard jumped to his skates and punched Pavelski midway through the second period. Both players were assessed two-minute roughing minors.
Wings coach Mike Babcock said that he has informed his players to look past the Sharks’ attempts, citing that general manager Ken Holland is on the case.
“I told our players today that we have a general manager and he looks after that stuff,” Babcock said. “We have to forget about being distracted, be disciplined and be determined.”