Given he’s only played nine games in February and March combined, it’s easy to understand why Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard wants to look forward — not back — as he prepares to start against Nashville on Friday.
“I’m just going out there and forgetting about the past here, the last month and a half,” Howard told the Macomb Daily. “I think I’m prepared, I’ve been working hard to get back there, I’ve been working hard on the ice. I’m just going to go out there and play.”
Detroit’s had a rotating door in goal throughout March. It started with Howard recording a 6-0 shutout win over Minnesota, before a reoccurring groin injury put him out of the lineup. That opened the door for Joey MacDonald, the goalie of record in five of the next six games until Howard returned to play in losses to San Jose (on Mar. 17) and Washington (Mar. 19)…before hurting his groin again.
Just one problem — MacDonald had injured his back. That forced Detroit to call up Ty Conklin from Grand Rapids and start him in each of the last four games, because the Wings wanted to make sure they didn’t rush Howard back into action.
Conklin responded well, going 2-1-1, but it’s now Howard’s time to reclaim the net.
“The second time around we took a different approach, more strengthening it, it feels a lot stronger out there,” he said of his groin injury. “I know what I’m capable of doing out there. It’s just going out there and doing it again.
“Everybody wants to feel great going into the playoffs. What’s going to be key for me over the next four games is getting back to where I was before the injuries.
“Today was the date from the start we were targeting. Four to five games left, chance to get back out there and get into game shape.”