Not too long ago Jimmy Howard was an All Star. Through December he had a 0.921 save percentage. His goals against average hovered in the low twos. He was on pace for his best season in two years.
Now, with six games to go in the regular season, Howard watched from the bench as Petr Mrazek stole a point from the Senators on Tuesday and took another step towards solidfying himself — and not Howard — as the Red Wings’ playoff goalie.
What the hell happened?
If you listen to Jimmy Howard the answer is nothing.
From MLive: “Howard said his issues aren’t mental and he hasn’t lost confidence. He also said he’s fine physically and that his time off due to injury is no excuse for his inconsistency.”
He has a point. Howard and Mrazek’s overall numbers on the season are similar.
|SV%||Adj Sv%||5-on-5 Sv%||5-on-5 Adj Sv%|
There’s less than a percentage difference in every category. Things don’t start to separate until you break it down by month. It all goes south in January, when Howard injures his groin.
Here’s a graph by month of Howard and Mrazek’s adjusted save percentage by month. Mrazek didn’t play in a game for the Red Wings in October.
Howard rebounded from the injury in February, bringing his adjusted save percentage up to 91.09, before having it drop below the 90 percent threshold again.
But Howard’s 5-on-5 save percentage actually improved from February to March, bringing it withing half a percent of his pre-January numbers.
Note: War-on-Ice didn’t list Howard’s adjusted 5-on-5 save percentage for January. I’m guessing he didn’t play in enough games. His regular save percentage that month was 89.6 percent.
Howard hasn’t just been worse in all aspects. If that was the case his 5-on-5 numbers would’ve mirrored his overall save percentage and fallen. No, Howard’s struggle comes in one particular aspect: the penalty kill.