Howard did not start the year well, but he sure finished it well and enters the playoffs playing his best hockey of the season. He won 21 games with a 2.66 GAA and .910 SV%, but comes into Friday having won four of his last five while holding opponents to just two goes in each game. He is not Tuukka Rask, but if he can be close, the Red Wings have a shot.
Zetterberg has told the team that he will join the first part of practice Tuesday, nearly eight weeks after undergoing back surgery.
Zetterberg will not play when the first-round series against the Presidents' Trophy-winning Boston Bruins begins Friday, nor will he be available for Game 2 on Easter Sunday. That much already has been determined, general manager Ken Holland said. Zetterberg, even provided that he has no setbacks, isn't likely to be available until the second round.
Howard gave up two goals on 19 shots in a 2-1 loss to the Hurricanes on Friday. The loss and Columbus' win last night guarantees the Wings will play Boston in the first-round of the playoffs. He will start in the season finale this afternoon in St. Louis. Howie was pulled after allowing three goals on 25 shots in the first 30 minutes in their first meeting--but that will not be the Blues team he faces tonight.