The first thing that faces a player heading into his second year is the concept of the "sophomore slump". You saw it last year with Steve Mason in Columbus and Detroit's own Jonathan Ericsson. Of course, the sophomore slump is only considered when its regarding a player that had a good first year to even put himself on the radar...such as a Calder Trophy finalist year like that of Jimmy Howard.
Howard took center stage in front of the third most scrutinizing fanbase in terms of goalie performance (behind Montreal and Toronto) and performed exceptionally. He placed in the top five in save percentage (.924, T-4th) and goals against average (2.26, 5th) while earning 37 of the 44 Detroit wins. He carried the team to the playoffs when it looked like the injury-depleted, half-Red Wings and half-Griffins would struggle to stay afloat. One of the bigger highlights of the season was his 51 save performance against LA and was essentially his announcement that he was one the scene for good. But will all of that carry over to the 2010-2011? Take the jump.
#35 / Goalie / Detroit Red Wings
Mar 26, 1984
Why it will happen: For starters, anything below his excellent .924 SV%, 37 wins and higher than 2.26 GAA will be considered a slump. But it shouldn't be. Those are three very good numbers that are going to be hard to match and even harder to surpass. Past that, however, Howard has shown difficulty controlling rebounds. If and when teams key in on this it will make for some ugly nights.
Why it won't happen: Howard's already shown that he can handle some intense pressure. He was thrust into the starting job early in the season last year and he dealt with it in a way that noone really imagined he could. He shows solid technique and if he is able to work on the rebound control he should be fine.
My take: False. I actually believe that under the right circumstances (i.e. everyone is healthy) that Howard could have an even better year than last year. He matured as the season went along and I think that given the summer to train as the number one guy he will pick up right where he left off last season.
Your turn, chime in with your thoughts on the matter.