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Jimmy Howard's Calder Trophy argument

Apr 10, 2010, 9:00 AM EDT

Howard.jpgAs we near the end of the season, we’re going to take a look at
who we think should be three finalists for the Hart, Norris and Calder
Trophies, making arguments for each. Next is the Calder trophy, the
NHL’s award for the Rookie of the Year. Next up: Detroit Red Wings
goaltender Jimmy Howard.

Why he deserves it: It’s amazing to think that after
such an incredible history the team has had for so long that Jimmy
Howard my finish with one of the best seasons a Detroit Red Wings
goaltender has ever had. The win total may not be as high or the
goals-against average as insanely low as we saw all those years ago, but
he’s enjoying one hell of a season as the Red Wings head into the
playoffs as the hottest team in the NHL.

Among goaltenders with at least 60 games played, Howard ranks third
in save percentage (0.924) and third in overall goals-against average
(2.27). He’s not far removed from the great numbers that Ryan Miller has
put up this season, someone many — including myself — are touting for
the Hart Trophy. While the Red Wings have certainly returned to the
level of play that propelled them to the finals last season, it’s been
Jimmy Howard that has provided the glue to hold this team together
through some rough stretches during the season. When you contrast
Howard’s play with that of his backup, Chris Osgood, it’s immediately
apparent just how great he’s been from start to finish for the Red
Wings.

Why he doesn’t deserve it: There are some who
argue that it’s the defensive system and the players in front of them
that make the Detroit goaltenders so good. After all, the Red Wings
consistently have some of the top defensive numbers in the NHL year
after year, no matter who is in net. It’s a flimsy argument when it
comes to Howard, however, and perhaps one could point to another rookie
goaltender who has been better. Tuukka Rask has played in 18 less games
than Howard, and has put up some astronomical numbers (1.97 GAA; .931
save %). If the Bruins had played Rask more this season, there’s a
chance we’d have his name here rather than Howard’s.

Why
he’ll get it:
The Red Wings are the hottest team in the NHL
headed into the playoffs, and Howard has played better and better as
each game goes by. He’s playing his best hockey of the season right now,
something that will certainly be fresh on the minds of voters. He’s
also very visible in his success in net, and it’s very easy to quantify a
Calder for Howard both based on number and based on the eyeball test.

Why
he won’t get it:
Perhaps for the reasons listed above;
sometimes voters may feel that it’s the defensive system that is helping
the goaltender over the actual play in net. The fact that Steve Mason, a
goalie, won last season may also play against him. The fact that Howard
is a bit older (26) compared to the much younger ages of the other
players in the mix may also play against him as well. While this is
certainly his first full season in the NHL, he’s had over four seasons
of experience in the AHL. Compare that to Myers (20) and Duchene (19)
who entered the NHL directly out of the Canadian juniors, and Howard may
be at a disadvantage.

  1. Copper & Blue - Apr 10, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    I’ve got him for the Hart and Calder, and I don’t think there’s much of an argument against him winning the Calder except maybe age.

  2. Jordan - Apr 10, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    Mr. Worley,
    I tend to agree with you that Howard is more than deserving of the nod for the Calder. I have been surprised to see however, the number of critics that have cited, of all things, age as the number one reason for Howard not deserving to be awarded the Calder. Ichiro won the A.L. Rookie of The Year award as a 27-year-old in 2001. Baseball voters apparently didn’t have a problem with age, so I’m not quite sure what the deal is with some of the pundits who think Howard shouldn’t qualify. He meets the criteria required by the NHL to be considered a candidate, and therefore should be given a more than fair look by voters. As for the stingy defense argument, it’s also the same argument that Chicago and Washington use to hide their own goaltender problems, because who are they kidding, when you have the puck 80 percent of the game, it’s going to be difficult for the opponent to amass more than 20 shots. I think both of those teams will be exposed in the playoffs, but I digress. I think if Howard is going to be in the Hart conversation, then he should also be considered for the Vezina. His GAA and SV Pct. are on par with the leagues best, and his win total isn’t that far behind, and when you take into consideration the fact he has played ten-less games than those ahead of him in wins, his value becomes even more apparent. Personally, I think Howard is more deserving of the Calder and Vezina than the Hart. I think Ovechkin has the Hart on lockdown.

  3. Ryan - Apr 22, 2010 at 12:04 AM

    If the reason he’s been so well is because of their system, and any goalie can do well in their “system”, then why has osgood been so terrible? Jimmy is solid and doesn’t play the bums of the eastern conference like rask. rasks numbers are impressive but he’s doing it against far lesser opponents.

  4. Omg - Apr 23, 2010 at 7:51 PM

    I don’t get it. Rask took the starting job away from a guy holding the Vezina, finished 1st in the league (GAA and %), is about to send Ryan Miller, the said best goalie of the year, home in their play-off duel. Is it even possible to do better than that? Seriously.
    Howard has done his job, but to name him instead of Rask.. sounds like an X-file.

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