– Coming off perhaps the defining moment of his rookie season, Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard
learned on Thursday that he is a finalist for the Calder Trophy.
Howard earned his first playoff shutout on Tuesday, helping the Wings even their Western Conference quarterfinals series as it returns to Phoenix for Friday’s Game 5.
While Tuesday’s performance won’t have any bearing on the Calder voting – it’s a regular-season award – Howard’s complete body of work during the season speak volumes for the rookie.
He finished fourth in the league with a .924 save percentage and fifth with a 2.26 goals-against average. Howard became the eighth goalie in franchise history to win at least 37 games in a single season, joining Terry Sawchuk, Glenn Hall, Roger Crozier, Tim Cheveldae, Chris Osgood, Dominik Hasek and Manny Legace.
If he wins the Calder, Howard would become the fourth Wings' goalie to do so, joining Sawchuk (1951), Glenn Hall (1956) and Crozier (1965).
After honing his skills for four seasons at the Red Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids, Howard took over for Osgood as the club’s No. 1 goaltender midway through the season.
Howard, a native of Syracuse, N.Y., started 25 consecutive games between Jan. 29 and April 4. It was the longest streak by a Wings’ goalie since Cheveldae strung together 29 starts in 1991-92. Howard finished with a 37-15-10 record, including a 15-0-2 run after the Olympic break, which essentially clinched the Wings’ 19th straight playoff berth.
However, Howard has some of his detractors, who believe he’s too old to win the rookie of the year award.
Early in April, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun asserted that Howard, who turned 26-years-old in March, is less deserving than much younger finalists: 19-year-old Colorado forward Matt Duchene and 20-year-old Buffalo defenseman Tyler Myers.
After a 32-year-old Sergei Makarov won the award in Calgary in 1990 specific eligibility guidelines were assessed to Calder balloting by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. To be nominated, a player must not reach their 26th birthday by September 15 of the season, which he is eligible.
“I look at it this way, a rookie is a rookie, no matter the age or not,” Howard told DetroitRedWings.com. “If that’s his thinking, he’s one person and I really don’t care. I would have loved to have broken into the NHL before I did.”
Howard’s nomination is the Red Wings’ third for the league awards this season. Forward Pavel Datsyuk
is a finalist for the Selke and Lady Byng trophies.
The NHL Awards Show will be June 23 in Las Vegas.