When the Detroit Red Wings face the Colorado Avalanche tonight at the Pepsi Center, it will be Ty Conklin that gets the start in goal — not Jimmy Howard. That’s newsworthy, because Howard’s streak of 17 consecutive starts will be broken.
Yeah, seventeen straight starts.
To put that in perspective, Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom and Philadelphia’s Ilya Bryzgalov each have 17 starts total. Boston’s Tim Thomas and San Jose’s Antti Niemi have 16. The last time Howard didn’t start for the Wings was on Oct. 25 in Columbus, which he missed following the birth of his son (Detroit lost 4-1, by the way.) Since then, a few things occurred:
— Joe Frazier died.
— The Muppets Movie was released.
— Brendan Shanahan suspended four players (Patrick Kaleta, Chris Stewart, Andre Deveaux, Max Pacioretty) for a total of 13 games.
— The Boston Bruins moved from worst to first in the Northeast Division.
“When you’re playing a lot, it’s good to get a little mental break here and there, but I enjoy being out there every single night,” Howard told Mlive.com. “Me being the competitor, I like to be out there for the guys, but at the same time Ty needs to play. It’s important to our team he gets on the ice and does a great job.”
Conklin hasn’t appeared in a game since Nov. 17, when he relieved Howard in the third period of a 5-2 loss to San Jose. He said he’s been treating practices like games as a way of staying sharp.
“That’s as much as you can do,” Conklin said. “Physically, you’re always skating. I think it’s just the mental stuff, getting prepared and staying focused for 60 minutes and getting into the flow of the game because things are going to be faster than they are in practice.”
“I’m very excited. It’ll be nice to get in there and get some action.”