July 26, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Red Wings goalies: Jimmy Howard's mission is to make amends for last season

Jimmy Howard's 2.66 GAA last season was his highest since 2010-11 (2.79). (David Guralnick / Detroit News)

This is the third in a series of Red Wings offseason position breakdowns by Ted Kulfan. Previously: Forwards and defensemen.

Detroit — Jimmy Howard admits it wasn’t a great season.

Teams need consistent, elite goaltending to make a sustained run in the playoffs.

The Red Wings reached the postseason — and were eliminated in five games.

“By no means was it a good season,” said Howard, who termed it an “OK season” but nothing beyond that. “I can be a lot better, a lot more consistent.”

Like several other units this season, the goaltenders will look very familiar in 2014-15.

Howard is No. 1, followed by Jonas Gustavsson. And if either is injured — or ineffective — the first phone call to Grand Rapids will be to Petr Mrazek.

But it’s up to Howard to improve on the numbers he posted last season and be “better across the board.”

Howard was 21-19-11 with a .910 save percentage and 2.66 goals-against average. And after a 1-2 start in the playoffs, he missed the last two games of the series loss to the Bruins because of the flu.

Still, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock have said Howard, in the second year of a six-year, $31.75 million deal, is the goaltender they will count on for at least 60 games.

The rest will be manned by Gustavsson, who was 16-5-4 (.907 save percentage, 2.63 GAA) and played the final two games of the series against the Bruins.

But, groin injuries have limited Gustavsson for stretches the past two seasons.

“The groin felt good the second part of the season,” said Gustavsson, re-signed to a one-year, $1.85 million deal. “I’m going to keep working on that because I want to be playing at a high level for a long time.”

Mrazek, meanwhile, appears to be the goaltender of the future. In nine games with the Red Wings, he was 2-4-0. He went 22-9-1 (.924 save percentage, 2.10 GAA) in Grand Rapids.

Starter

Jimmy Howard: There were injuries, a slump, the question of whether he was going to be an Olympian (he was). All contributed to Howard’s sub-par season.

Backup

Jonas Gustavsson: Among the best backups last season, he was confident after the season ended he cured the groin problems that plagued him the last two seasons.

On call

Petr Mrazek: The Red Wings decided it was better for him to play 60 games in Grand Rapids rather than 20 in the NHL. At 22, Mrazek has shown confidence in brief appearance with the Red Wings.

Tom McCollum: The 2008 first-round pick enjoyed his best season in Grand Rapids (24-12-4, .922 save percentage, 2.30 GAA).

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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