Houston Aeros 1994-2013: Thank you for all the great memories and two decades of great hockey and entertainment.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A good goalie story ... and some thoughts on Josh Harding

The Red Wings' 2-1 win over the Kings last night featured a good win by a young goalie (Jimmy Howard) and it got me thinking about Josh Harding (pictured here stopping a shot by Bill Thomas) and his career with the Aeros and now the Minnesota Wild.

I know there are many of you that hate the Red Wings, so I am sure you are filled with delight to look at the standings and see them out the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

Howard, the young goalie that has stolen the Red Wings' starting job away from two-time Stanley Cup winner Chris Osgood. He was unbelievable Thursday night and he single-handedly stole two points away from the L.A. Kings.

Jimmy Howard is 6-3-1 in his last ten games with a 1.89 GAA and a .943 save percentage.

Jimmy Howard was never particularly great for the Grand Rapids Griffins, and he was definitely below average against the Aeros in five all time games. As a Wings fan myself, I never really saw him taking over for the Red Wings like he has. He played four years in the minors while the Red Wings were always trying to use duct tape in goal to get them to a Stanley Cup.

It appears that his time in the minors was well spent, as he has kept the Red Wings in the playoff hunt, despite that team having up to eight regulars out of the lineup this season. I kind of compare him to Harding (four years in the minors, etc.), except Howard's organization and a series of unfortunate circumstance, isn't directly responsible for ruining his career.

To be fair, Harding (who was a very good AHL goalie) has not made the most of his opportunities for the Wild ... But I don't think he's been allowed much of a groove to prove himself. Harding is a better goalie than his numbers indicate ... but when you don't play, you can't get better. And now it's kind of funny (ironic) that they can't trade him for a bag of pucks, and they sure as heck can't risk sending him down to get some playing time.

Back to Howard. Again, his performances against the Aeros looked more like Chris Beckford-Tseu than Kari Lehtonen.

His lifetime GAA against Houston is 3.67, and his saves percentage is .866. He won two games (2-1-1 and one no decision) against the Aeros, but one of them (Jan. 6, 2006 at Toyota Center) he allowed five goals and only got the win when the Aeros played their worst third period in the history of the franchise. They allowed five goals, blowing a four-goal lead.

Now to a question for our readers. Which of the three Aeros goalies do you think will be the next to get a start in the NHL? Dubielewicz has the most experience. Brusty had some time with the Kings a few years ago, and Anton, despite his recent implosion and nine-game losing streak, is still No. 3 on the depth chart.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Khudobin

Ms. Conduct said...

Nice. Howard was off the chain last night. The interview with him after the game was great, too. Had that "did that really just happen?" look. Definitely a coming out game for him.

I'm gonna wager Anton, just because he's the golden child of the minor goalies.

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

That is exactly what I was thinking last night about Howard. I was waiting on one of those five-goal third periods, but it never happened.

My guess is Wade Dubielewicz, with an Eastern Conference team. Either later this year or early next year.

Either that, or he signs in Switzerland to play for Kloten Flyers.

Ha.

Anonymous said...

Khudobin, Dubie, Brust.

artandhockey said...

Look out Europe --- the goalies are coming!

CatTrick said...

I'll also guess Anton.

Now, a question for you, Andrew (and Ms.C., John, Fred, or others who have more knowlege about this than I do). I'm not familiar with Howard, but what would cause him (or any AHLer) to be "never particularly great" - "below average" in the AHL, then excel in the NHL? Other than the fact that he had time to develop in the minors, that seems to go against all logic. Was he not pushing himself to full potential in the AHL? Did he have a bad attitude or poor coaching? Did he just not "thrive" in the AHL atmosphere? And did the Wings call him up simply because they needed a "body" in net? I'm looking forward to reading your comments - I'm confused.

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

Cat,

This is my opinion only, but I think the defense in front of Jimmy in Grand Rapids was just always unspectacular. I think that goes a long way in determining how AHL careers are perceived.

There were times when Jimmy looked like an All-Star (there was once a month where he started every game for five weeks and did not lose). And then there were starts where the D in front of him would break down and he couldn't stop anything.

Maybe, just maybe Harding's numbers were good down here because the Aeros D in front of him has always been decent.

Case in point ... Daum's last year. The Aeros (amazingly) were near .500 and in the playoff race before Tom Lynn and Co. pulled him up to be the Wild's permanent No. 3 goalie.

After that, the Aeros rotated Miro Kopriva, Tony Quesada and Dieter Kochan and lost game after game after game.

The Wild gave up on the Aeros that year, and that reflected in how the team played from late February on. Even though I think Daum's fate had already been sealed, it did not help that the Wild just gave up on him. He had no shot at the playoffs once Harding was recalled for good.

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

And again, (to answer a few more questions I got via email) I don't mean to lay all the blame on Minnesota for Harding's failures this year. He has not played well when given the opportunity.

I just think, from his point of view, he probably needs more starts and probably deserved a few more to get a groove early on when Backstrom wasn't playing all that well either.

Yes, I know the Wild are like the Canucks in that they are going to play their No. 1 to death ... but my opinion is and remains that Harding can't get it going because of the lack of playing time.

And now, because of his performance, it's not exactly like he deserves any more than he is going to get.

CatTrick said...

Andrew, your answer makes a lot of sense ... going from there, I guess that's why they always say hockey is a TEAM sport.

I like how you related your answer back to the Aeros. You gave me a bit of a "pre-hockey obsession" history lesson ... and you sure do know your Aeros history. Thanks!!!

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

You, my dear, are welcome!
I never claim to be a hockey expert, but I could be the Aeros official historian.

There never seems to be a dull moment in Aero-land.

Ms. Conduct said...

Except during games....

Andrew J. Ferraro said...

Ouch.
ZINGAH!

CatTrick said...

*giggle*

==^..^==

B2Bomber said...

Along the same line Benoit Pouliot didn't do much for the Wild or the Aeros but he's doing great for Montreal. He had the game winner last night and has been productive in other games since the trade. Patrick O'Sullivan has been traded around but is developing into a solid player despite being with Edmonton this year.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like being traded is GOOD for some.