Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Jimmy Howard Swatch Card

Statistically speaking, Jimmy Howard's season is a fine one so far, what with a .912 save percentage and 2.41 GAA to go with a 23-13-10 record and 2 shutouts, but the reality is that injuries have kept him out of the middle of the season, hampering his groove, and he's finally hit a slump right when the Detroit Red Wings need him at the top of his game - looking to secure a playoff spot and enter the postseason on a positive note.

He's now won two in a row, but has had a few meltdowns in March that put doubts inside head coach Mike Babcock's mind as to which goaltender would give him the best chance to win between Howard and rookie Petr Mrazek.

I like Howard, he's a fine (but nowhere near perfect) goalie; I just don't like his cap hit - as a matter of fact, if Henrik Lundqvist's and Pekka Rinne's salaries are in the $7M range and Jonathan Quick's is at $5.5M, no other goalie should be making more than Quick - Olympian, Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe winner. No other goalie should be playing in over 60 games either, so, pro-rated, paying $5M for a 60-game top-10 starter is akin to (and a smarter deal than) a 70-game starter at $7M who'll tire when the heat starts and/or gets injured in the playoffs.

Howard's proven that he can stop 91-92% of pucks in any given year, but not that he can play with the big boys when it counts. As such, he ranks among the likes of a lot of his current peers, like Cory Schneider. His talent level compares to that of Corey Crawford, who has won a Stanley Cup, and Jaroslav Halak (a bit more ''naturally talented'', a little less heart), who has single-handedly taken a lower-tiered team to a Conference Finals, winning against perhaps the two best teams in the league in the best effort of rope-a-dope hockey of the past 25 years. Howard can probably compete with these guys, he just needs to get his focus back. He reminds me of Carey Price two years ago.

And so I wasn't disappointed when I came across this card (#D-HW, numbered 52/99) in a pack of Panini's 2013-14 Dominion last year, showing him in the Wings' classic red (home) uniform with a matching game-worn swatch:

The scan actually provides more detail in the foil (the team's logo, the bottom of the card, the brand name) than the naked eye can see - which is just a cluster of dark blue - unless, like a dress, I'm just seeing it wrong.

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