Jimmy Howard: NHL's most consistent goalie?

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Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Hockey goalies often are stereotyped as being, um, neurotic but Hockey or Die’s Jonathan Willis put together an interesting list of this season’s five most consistent goalies in the NHL and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard came out on top.

Of course, before we go further, it’s probably relevant to discuss exactly what is meant by “consistency.” Willis points to a great Battle of Alberta post that focuses on the fact that a lot of times when a sports writer states that “(blank player/team) needs to become more consistent” the writer really wants to say that they needs to be better. 

When it comes down to it, being consistent and being great – while not mutually exclusive – can often be wildly different expectations. A great goalie might have some serious peaks and valleys, then again, an average goalie can be quite valuable if his performance is steady.

The funny thing about this list (being that it’s about consistency) is that it seems like a collage of the year’s most surprising goalies. Craig Anderson hasn’t just been outstanding this season, he’s been reliably outstanding. After bouncing back and forth from Detroit’s farm system, Howard has been a rock for the Red Wings. Tuukka Rask is producing similar results in Boston.
The two most interesting names are the last ones on the list: Carey Price and Jonathan Quick. Unlike the top three, Price and Quick do not have elite-level save percentages, yet they’re both in considerably different situations. Price came into the league with Chosen One type pressure and to the naked eye seems like a disappointment. On the other hand, Quick isn’t even the most renowned goalie named Jonathan in the Kings system, yet he’s sporting a Brodeurian workload.
Price is in a “1A, 1B” situation (at best) in Montreal because of the often great goaltending of Jaroslav Halak, but his numbers have been comparable to Quick’s this season. The difference is that Quick is the most stable, mature goalie the Kings have now (though that could change later with the maturation of their other prospects). Is Quick a demonstrably great goalie? No, but there could be legitimate value in knowing what you’re going to get from a goalie.
Now, if Willis can find a team that has the best cross-section between goalie consistency and  shots allowed, then he’ll really be on to something.

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    Hedman still isn’t ready to return for ‘desperation mode’ Lightning

    WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 23: Victor Hedman #77 of the Tampa Bay Lightning holds his arm against the Washington Capitals during the second period at Verizon Center on December 23, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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    Whatever “illness” is bothering Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman must be pretty bad, as he’ll miss his third straight game as the Bolts visit the Sharks in San Jose tonight.

    Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said the team (which he considers in “desperation mode”) will evaluate Hedman on a game-by-game basis. Hey, for a squad dealing with as many injuries as Tampa Bay has been this season, it’s probably refreshing to say “game-by-game” instead of “day-to-day.”

    To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’ve begun a potentially harrowing road stretch reasonably well, especially considering Hedman’s absence. Let’s look at it as a whole:

    Monday: 2-1 win at Kings
    Tuesday: 2-1 OT loss at Ducks
    Tonight: at Sharks
    Saturday: at Coyotes
    Tuesday, Jan. 24: at Blackhawks
    Thursday, Jan. 26: at Panthers
    Tuesday: Jan. 31: begin four-game homestand vs. Bruins

    That’s a pretty challenging way to head into March, especially without one of the best defensemen in the NHL. The Bolts have to hope he gets over this sickness (or unspecified injury?) soon enough.

    NHL explains new All-Star Skills Competition event

    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 13:  Fans arrive for the game between the Los Angeles Kings and the St. Louis Blues at the Staples Center on January 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    We wrote yesterday about the NHL’s plans to replace the “Breakaway Challenge” at the All-Star Skills Competition with something called the “Four Line Challenge.”

    Today, the league explained how the new event will work:

    This event involves four shooters from each team. Each shooter will shoot from one of four shooting positions; near blue line, center line, far blue line and far goal line.

    The first shooter from each team takes two shots from the near blue line in an attempt to score goals in either the upper left or upper right corner of the net. Successful shots score one point for their team.

    The second shooter from each team takes two shots from center ice in an attempt to score goals in one of the four corners of the net. Successful shots in the lower corners score one point and successful shots in the upper corners score three points for their team.

    The third shooter from each team takes two shots from the far blue line in an attempt to score a goal in one of the four corners of the net or the five hole. Successful shots in the lower corners or five hole score one point and successful shots in the upper corners score five points for their team.

    The fourth shooter from each team takes two shots from the far goal line in an attempt to score a goal in the five hole. Successful shots score 10 points for their team. Captains can substitute the fourth shooter with a goalie. A successful shot by a goalie is awarded 20 points for their team.

    In addition, the first All-Star to score two goals in the five hole from the far goal line will win the new 2017 Honda CRV.

    Sounds like fun.

    Or at the very least, worth a try.

    The skills competition will take place on Saturday, Jan. 28, at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

    Each all-star will compete in at least one of the six contests: the skills challenge relay, the four-line challenge, accuracy shooting, fastest skater, hardest shot, and the shootout.

    Minor-league team involved in rollover bus crash

    COLUMBUS, GA - MARCH 13:  Shannon Szabados #40 of the Columbus Cottonmouths watches the action from the bench at Columbus Civic Center on March 13, 2014 in Columbus, Georgia. The Pensacola Ice Flyers defeated the Columbus Cottonmouths 5-0. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
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    The Columbus Cottonmouths, a Georgia-based team in the Southern Professional Hockey League, was involved in a rollover crash on Thursday afternoon while traveling to an away game in Peoria.

    Per the Peoria Journal-Star, the charter bus carrying the team crashed on Interstate 74 and all 24 passengers — players, coaching and traveling staff — were transported to hospital.

    More:

    Two had to be extricated from the vehicle and were transported immediately to the hospital, while the others followed later in another bus. Morton Fire Chief Joe Kelley said his firefighters had to cut out holes in the top of the bus to remove the two. The rest were able to get out on their own.

    Twenty-three of the bus’s occupants were taken to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. Three were considered trauma patients and listed in serious condition, though OSF media relations coordinator Shelli Dankoff described their injuries as non-life threatening. The remaining 20 patients were not seriously injured. Some had already been treated at release shortly after 3 p.m. and were waiting for transport to their hotel.

    The Cottonmouths have since followed up with a release, confirming all players have been accounted for and that there are no life-threatening injures to players, staff or personnel.

    Pre-game reading: About that time Donald Trump considered buying the Panthers

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    — Up top, Bob McKenzie discusses Paul Maurice’s status in Winnipeg. Is the Jets’ head coach on the hot seat?

    — Did you know that Donald Trump once considered buying the Florida Panthers? He never did buy them, of course, but the Miami Herald’s George Richards recalls the time, “around 2000,” when Trump kicked the tires on the hockey club. The Panthers, oddly enough, are now owned by Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Army, Vinnie Viola. (Miami Herald)

    — From The Journal Star newspaper in Peoria, Illinois: “A charter bus carrying the Columbus Cottonmouths team was in a rollover crash on Interstate 74 on Thursday afternoon as the Southern Professional Hockey League team was on its way into Peoria for a weekend series against the Peoria Rivermen.” Fortunately, there don’t appear to be any serious injuries — just some “bumps and bruises,” according to the team’s co-owner, Bart Rogers. However, two people were reportedly taken to the hospital in an ambulance. (Journal Star)

    — The Washington Post spoke to Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer about the new streamlined pants that all NHL goalies must start wearing by Feb. 4. While Holtby isn’t too concerned about the changes, Grubauer had this to say: “I understand you want to get the game more exciting for the fans, but there’s a fine line between making the gear smaller and also keeping the goalies protected. If too many guys get hurt with those, it’s not a good thing. … What do you want to take away next? Goalies without sticks? Without skates?” PHT prediction: They’ll let goalies keep their skates on.  (Washington Post)

    — An encouraging update from Bryan Bickell, who was diagnosed with MS in November. The Hurricanes forward has been taking a drug called Tysabri, and the results have been good. “I’m feeling a lot better. I’ve been on the ice a couple times. … Different people react differently to different drugs and I’ve been reacting good and we’ll see how it goes.” (NHL.com)

    — The Nashville Predators picked up “another teammate” on Friday, but they’re still not sure if “Mario” will last the season as their good-luck charm. (The Tennessean)

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    Enjoy the games!