Goalie nods: Desperate Red Wings turn back to Howard

AP
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Their playoff streak on the line, the Red Wings are turning to their veteran netminder tonight at home to Minnesota.

Jimmy Howard will get the start over the Wings’ struggling youngster, Petr Mrazek.

From MLive:

Petr Mrazek has been pulled in his past two starts and in three of his past four. Mrazek, since Feb. 12, is 6-6-2, with a 3.40 goals-against average and .885 save percentage.

Not that Howard has been lights out himself — his numbers have been mediocre at best — but he’s been better than Mrazek.

The bottom line for the Wings is that the goaltending needs to improve, and so do the players in front of the goalie.

“In March we’ve given up too many goals,” coach Jeff Blashill told reporters. “For the most part we just got to clean up mental errors. We just got to make sure we’re sharp in our decisions every single time.”

It’s April now, so perhaps the Wings can put March’s defensive issues behind them. If they can’t, then it may be the Pittsburgh Penguins that end up owning the NHL’s longest postseason-appearance streak.

No word yet on who will start for the Wild. It’s an interesting decision for coach John Torchetti. Devan Dubnyk started last night at home to Ottawa, allowing three goals on just 22 shots in a 3-2 loss, but backup Darcy Kuemper hasn’t played in a couple of weeks so there could be a rust factor there.

The Wild still haven’t officially clinched a playoff spot.

Elsewhere…

Tuukka Rask likely for the Bruins in St. Louis, where Brian Elliott will go for the Blues. (Boston is just one point ahead of Detroit for third place in the Atlantic.)

Scott Darling for the Blackhawks in Winnipeg. Ondrej Pavelec for the Jets.

Braden Holtby for the Capitals in Colorado. Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Jacob Markstrom‘s a possibility for Vancouver in Anaheim, after Ryan Miller played last night in San Jose. For the Ducks, John Gibson is expected.