Jimmy Howard

Jimmy Howard on Tim Thomas: “He just continues to amaze”

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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.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.