Top Jimmy Cooks, Top Jimmy Swings – Previewing Scum’s Man In The Mask

Oh no! I made a musical reference to a non-Detroit band! Killion’s going to shit a chicken!

Anyway, when you talk to Scum fans (at least the most reasonable ones, but boy is that a world’s tallest midget contest), you get the feeling that they have an inordinate amount of faith in Jimmy Howard. On the other side, you get it because a lot of the Wings goaltending has been so bad over the years (whatever the win-loss record might say) that an actual above-average goalie might look even better than he actually is.

Before I get a bunch of tweets and comments about how I’m totally undervaluing Howard from the Great Unwashed of Southeast Michigan (and that one dude in Kansas), let me be clear: I don’t think Howard sucks at all. He’s very good. And in a positional matchup, this is the only area where the Wings can boast even a push with the Hawks. And any goalie who punches Corey Perry in the back of the head has to be somewhat admired.

But how good is Howard? At times, he was sensational against the Ducks. But he never held them to less than two goals in a game. And while he saw 30+ shots in six of the seven games against Anaheim — losing the one he didn’t, actually — there wasn’t a 45-save Picasso that took your breath away. And don’t most people feel that if the Hawks average between 33-35 shots as the Ducks did, they’ll probably score a little more?

Another factor you’d have to ignore to treat Howard as The Messiah In A Mask is that his record against the Hawks is in need of some serious polish. He’s 4-7-5 with a SV% of .905 and a GAA of 2.79 in 16 career starts against them.

To counter that, Howard was very good against the Hawks this year for the most part, just not getting a win. He was heroic in that first game in Detroit this year, and pretty steady in the two games at the UC. But then, there’s that whole four against in less than 30 minutes at the end of March there.

You’ll hear a sentiment that Howard can steal this series from the Hawks. But he never has done anything like that in the playoffs before. And it’s not like Mike Smith last year who never had the chance to before he actually did. Howard has. And like everything else, he’s been good but not defining. His best performance probably came two years ago in a sweep of Phoenix and then a near-miss from down 3-0 against the Sharks. But he was scorched by the Preds last year — then again the whole team was.

And that’s essentially how Howard will go — how the Wings go. If their defense is getting overrun by the speed of the Hawks forwards and he has to repel 40 shots and a lot of prime chances, he’s just not going to be GORT and win it by himself. He can certainly hold the Wings in it, but win it? I have to be convinced of that. If the Wings defense miraculously can limit the Hawks and they don’t get to unleash the whole arsenal, than Howard can certainly win it — with “it” being a limited ask. But I don’t see that happening.

As for his actual play, Howard is more athletic than he gets credit for and capable of the highlight-reel save as he never gives up on a play. But he also can get lost out of his crease on occasion, and there are a lot of times when his rebound control could be considered charitable. As the Wings defense is not the biggest they have to be the quickest to wrap up sticks and bodies before they get to those loose pucks. The Hawks will have to crash through at times with the bodies they have that can do that. Against this blue line, they most certainly can.

I expect Howard to be good this series. Bordering on very good. But then again, Corey Crawford usually saves his best for Detroit. Which means Howard would have to be other-worldly to give Scum a real chance. There are some IRS-signer odds on that one.


Howard left practice early today, which is not the first time this has happened this spring. He’s battling a sore hamstring, but that’s apparently been the case all playoffs. Needless to say if it gets worse and the Wings have to go to Monster….well, let’s just say we’ll be going to California with an aching in our heart. 


  • Is it me, or are people a tad overconfident? It’s the Wings… the guys that seemed to knock us out of the playoffs every year in the ’90s (but that one with Roy). They took it to us in ’09. I know, the tables have turned a whole lot since the ’09 WCF, but would a Bruins fan ever be as confident against the Habs as some/many Hawk fans on the Internets appear to be against the Wings?

    Anyway, I think this is gonna be a series and I’m getting much more nervous now that we’re only 31 hours from puck drop.

    • Stockroom Snail

      You’re living in the past. The Hawks weren’t the best team in the league any of those years.

      • For a kid of the ’90s, the Wings are the boogie man… I still can’t stand Slava Kozlov… but yes, it’s the past, but they’re still the Wings. I’m worried, not because I don’t think the Hawks are better, the Hawks are better, but it also seems like the playoffs start now.

        This is a more general observation… but for a game where randomness and luck is so rampant the ‘experts’ are pretty much in lock step with their picks: Hawks, Kings, Pens (then some diversity in the Bruins/Rangers). This is really weird as it’s likely that one of those three teams will be upset. It’s as if they’re picking NBA series. Very odd.

      • ballyb11

        Ha Ha

    • laaarmer

      ’09 series. How many of those games went to OT? 3 out of 5. Yes the other two were legit defeats, but that series was closer than you remember.

      • As were all our games with them this year … all of them went past regulation, minus the one you can’t even use as an indicator of anything.

        • laaarmer

          You are correct, sir.

    • Waylon

      I don’t believe many Hawks fans are in any way overconfident about this series – we all know that if the Hawks don’t play to their level of excellence that this could be a long series. But if they do play to their expected levels? Then prolly a 6 – game series, tops.

      • justforkicks

        But subsequent confidence comes from the hawks always getting it up for the wings. They didn’t play their best against the wild, but I think the hawks take it up another level against the wings, which we’ve seen he successful. I don’t think it’ll be easy or that it’ll be a shoe in, but I think the hawks have a great chance of coming through this as the vicktrs.

    • cliffkoroll

      It’s possible to be ‘appropriately confident’. Repeat after me: the Hawks should win this series, the Hawks should win this series.

      Now they might lose, but they should win.

      Here are the prognostications from the Detroit writers:

      Although something tells me this just makes you more anxious.

    • roadhog

      The Wings looked like they were playing at their peak through most of their series against the Ducks- god knows they looked much better than their regular season (maybe a bit of smoke and mirrors with splitting up Zet and Dat.) I think we can all agree, we haven’t really seen the Hawks at their peak yet, and I wouldn’t neccessarily limit that to these playoffs either. Watching the Wild series left me wondering if the wife was slipping me an Ambien before each game. How many games this season did the Hawks manage a win, when they really only “played” one or maybe two periods- lots. How many games this season did it feel like the one goal wins should have been two or three based on possession/flow/pressure? A bunch. There is no team better than Detroit to get three periods of hockey out of our Hawks . . . and with that effort we should have little to fear.

      • Well one could also argue that we have seen the Hawks are their best… their inability to play a full three periods might not be ‘we’ve go this’ thing, but rather an actual fault in the team. I’m not saying it is, but it’s not like the Hawks played a lot of 60 minute games this year (like they did, for instance, in 2009-2010).

        The Hawks played lackluster against the Wild compared to what we saw in much of the regular season, agree with you there. I don’t think we’ll see that Hawks team against the Wings either… I think it’s Hawks in six; but I just was getting the feeling of overconfidence from some Hawk fans on the internet… and we’re not facing the Wild any more… it’s the big boys now, even if we’re the biggest, baddest boy on the block.

        • roadhog

          Nothing’s a given in the playoffs, right? Over-confidence is a trap. Regular season means nothing. Rest can mean rust. And even the most impressive playoff records can be broken by an 8 seed. The Wild series told us almost nothing about where our Hawks are really at other than round 2, while the Wings made a statement. Yes, some are over-confident . . .

    • ballyb11

      People are a tad overconfident.

      I’m worried.

      • cliffkoroll

        The key question is: which people? Hopefully not the 20 guys rockin’ red sweaters tonight and the three guys n suits behind them.

        As far as I know, no scientific link has been established between the views of idiots like me on message boards and the performance of teams that such idiots root for. There is a substantial body of superficial anecdotal ‘evidence’ on the subject though.

      • cliffkoroll

        Here’s my nightmare analogy: In 1985, the Chicago Bears, led by a gruff, controversial, mustachioed coach early in his tenure, laid waste to the NFL in a Sherman-esque campaign.

        The next two years saw disappointing early exits. Oh well. But 1988. Yes, the Bears, at long last, were healthy. After another great regular season, they got past the ‘first round stumbling block’ in an unspectacular, foggy game. Finally, the stage was set. Home field and UNFINISHED BUSINESS

  • steeg of their own

    Did Stalberg run over Q’s dog then serve him the carcass for supper or something? Is there something I’m missing that would cause Q to act like he’s going to be a healthy scratch Wednesday? No reason to scratch Stalberg while we’ve still got Carbomb in a sweater.

    • Woods

      I’m wondering the same things. WTF is Q trying to do, get Stalberg all pissy and then unleash him on Kindl/Colaiacovo?

      • Woods

        Stalberg wasn’t talking about his current status: “Ask Q.”

        Seems bitchy.

        • laaarmer

          What is he supposed to say?
          Q is a giant mustached turd.

          I am better than all the other options (even though they are my teammates and this is not about me).
          I want to be traded
          I played fantastic in the last series and Q is just picking on me
          Me me me me me!

        • Joe Banks

          That’s what I would be… er, that’s what I would say too!

      • raditzzzz

        lol, i wish q was such a master of psychology.

      • Waylon

        He’s trying to light a fire up Stalberg’s arse – if this is what it takes to get his attention, so be it.

        • Joe Banks

          I can picture Stalberg looping around the “orange pylon” now…

    • laaarmer

      Much ado about nothing

    • west_fulton

      Q: “Stay ready.Nobody said he’s out of the lineup, but … make decisions tough on us.”

      much ado about nothing is what i’m thinking here. if anything, don’t give the wings certainty on the lines in preparation and send a message to stals that fancy passes at the blue lines will not cut it vs the scum. this is Q’s version of “fun”. he enjoys this uncertainty being written and publicized. if #25 isn’t playing tomorrow night though, then we will need to readdress.

      • laaarmer

        Hey, I said that first. I want a footnote.

        • roadhog

          I was a witness, Laaarmer said it first, and it appears to be corrected.

    • Neo

      This is all about Handzus, imo. If Handzus is playing second line center then the Patricks are playing against the oppositions third or fourth lines.

      If Bolland is on the third then that line is playing against one of the top two opponent lines. So Q is looking at options for better two way play on the third line.

      My complaint all year is that the Hawks have let Stalberg bumslay against opposition lower lines at the expense of the Patricks. Which is why I was surprised that the Hawks didn’t trade Stalberg at the TDL. He doesn’t really fit with what Q traditionally wants to do. And he is going to want more money next season than the Hawks are going to want to pay.

      • amontesawesome

        But in what universe is Stalberg on the 4th line a worse option than any of the alternatives?

        • justforkicks

          Exactly, I don’t understand why fucking carcillo is a better option then stals. I don’t fucking get why carcillo is out there at all. Where the fuck is Ben smith or JMo. Or hell Bollig!?

  • cliffkoroll

    I have no idea what Detroit fans are talking about. Isn’t Howard/Crawford a toss-up? Let the series be decided by others.

    • laaarmer

      Yes, it’s a toss up.

      I checked out the WIIM preview. I think the site guys are right on, but the fans? I guess they are fans and allowed to be homers, but that JJ from Kansas guy still gives me a rash.

      • cliffkoroll

        Yeah, I read it too. Here’s the thing- JJ wrote the article giving the edge to the Hawks (Jennings etc) then he slips in the other view in the comments.

        • laaarmer

          Like I said, he still gives me a rash.

    • Waylon

      The only concern I have with Howard is if he keeps up with his best Mike Smith impression of being grazed by an opposing player in his crease and then falling backward as if shot by a sniper in the upper mezzanine. He got at least two penalties that way against the Ducks, and considering how the refs have placed their whistles firmly up their rear ends lately concerning egregious penalties going as non – calls, that’s really saying something.

      • jhb

        I think I saw one of what you mentioned, against Selanne. But, actually, the theatrics didn’t work. It was a cross check right after that got Selanne the boot. I really hope Howard doesn’t flop around to cook up penalties, for his own sake. It seems like this is the year of no sympathies for goalies like last year was.

  • laaarmer

    What will be the punishment for an octopus/pi at the UC?

    • MySpoonIsTooBig

      chemical castration

    • Joe Banks

      Make the douche eat it!

    • Accipiter

      I always wondered why it is okay to throw dead things on the ice. Are you alllowed to chuck a dead cat if you want ?


  • RE: post title

    C’mon Fels, The White Stripes’ “Jimmy the Exploder” was right there!