When the Detroit Red Wings face the Boston Bruins in tomorrow’s Thanksgiving Showdown, the battle in goal will likely be waged between Jimmy Howard and Tim Thomas.
Just don’t expect a war of words between the two. Especially not from Howard.
In speaking on a teleconference earlier this week, Howard was most complimentary of the defending Vezina and Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
“I’ve never met him, but I’ve got a lot of respect for him and what he’s done in his career,” Howard said of Thomas. “He just continues to amaze people. The path that he had was a long one and probably made it that much sweeter for him. He’s taken control of everything and you can tell he’s having fun with it, too. So, it’s great to see that.”
Now THAT’S how you pump tires.
Howard also made mention of the numbers Thomas posted last year — he set the NHL single-season record with a .938 save percentage — numbers which are close to being equaled this season. Thomas is 10-4-0 with a 1.85 GAA and .936 save percentage, recording seven of 10 wins during Boston’s current unbeaten streak.
That said, Howard’s stats have been equally good. He’s 11-5-1 with a 1.92 GAA and a .927 save percentage and on pace to set career highs in all three categories.
While he doesn’t have Thomas’ underdog story — Howard was a second-round pick in 2003 (third goalie taken after Marc-Andre Fleury and Corey Crawford) — he, like Thomas, had to wait a while before becoming a full-fledged NHL starter.
Howard played nearly 200 games at the AHL level, stuck behind a glut of Red Wings goalies (Chris Osgood, Dominik Hasek, Ty Conklin, Manny Legace, Joey MacDonald) before finally emerging as the No. 1 in 2009-10. He was 25 at the time — a little older than most, but still a ways off Thomas, who didn’t become a legit starter until he was 32 years old.