Jimmy Howard Out 4-6 Weeks With MCL Sprain

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MONTREAL, QC - NOVEMBER 12: Jimmy Howard #35 of the Detroit Red Wings looks on during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on November 12, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-0. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

The Detroit Red Wings were dealt the opposite of a Christmas present today when it was announced that Jimmy Howard would be missing 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain.

Jimmy Howard To Miss 4-6 Weeks With MCL Sprain

Howard had to be helped off the ice during the second period of Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was writhing in pain after a collision with Erik Condra of the Lightning and Red Wings rookie defenseman Nick Jensen fell on top of him.

Howard’s Elite Season Riddled With Challenges

What makes this news really painful is how good of a season Howard has been having so far. He’s tied with none other than Carey Price for the second-best save percentage in the league among goalies who have started more than fifteen games. His .934 save percentage and 1.96 goals against average are much higher than his career average of .915 and 2.43. In fact, they are the best of his career so far.

Howard has been one of the very few bright spots on this 2016-17 Red Wings team. His goaltending has kept them in almost every game that he’s started. His team’s lack of offensive production is holding him back in the “wins” column, as he’s gotten just over one goal of support per game all season, the lowest in the NHL.

To add to this frustration, this is the second injury Howard has sustained this season. In late November, he had a stint on the injured reserve after leaving a game against the New Jersey Devils. Howard has been bitten by the injury bug in recent years suffering multiple lower-body injuries since 2013, the year he signed a six-year $32 million contract extension. Since signing that, he’s never put up a save percentage over .910, and due to his career season, these are tough ones to swallow.

Mrazek’s Time to Shine

Taking the reigns from Howard is 24-year old Petr Mrazek. After putting up elite numbers for the first half of last year, it was widely believed that Mrazek would be Detroit’s go-to goaltender this year. Alas, Mrazek has fallen back to Earth, posting a .899 SV% and 3.06 GAA so far this season.

Now that Howard’s out, all of the pressure falls heavily on Mrazek’s shoulders. He has failed to post above a .900 SV% in his last three outings, so the team expects him to turn a corner here and carry the goaltending load. This is his chance to get himself back into the starting goaltender discussion.

Jared Coreau has been called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins to back Mrazek up, and it appears he will be making his second career start. He gave up four goals in a 5-3 loss in Pittsburgh earlier this year making 32 saves. In his last 89 games at the AHL level, he’s put up a 2.27 goals against average and .924 save percentage.  

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