Jimmy Howard, in finest season, is Wings' only All-Star

Gregg Krupa
The Detroit News

Washington – Jimmy Howard, having a fine season after rededicating himself to conditioning in the offseason, is the Red Wings only 2015 NHL All-Star.

Howard's 2.08 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in through 31 games played are both better than his six-season career averages of 2.38 and .917.

"Jimmy Howard's having the best year of his career," Chris Osgood, the former Wings goalie, said recently.

The NHL All-Star Game will be at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 25, at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

This is Howard's second All-Star nod, after getting the honor in 2012.

Howard, 30, has two shutouts this season, including during his 300th NHL game Nov. 18 at Columbus.

He did not lose in regulation during seven games, from Oct. 15 to Nov. 12.

A number of times this season, his coach Mike Babcock has credited Howard with efforts that either kept the Wings in the contest or outright won them.

"Howie's been great for us," Niklas Kronwall said.

The Wings, who have surprised many around the NHL with their success so far this season, are 16-7-7 with Howard in net.

He is the first goalie in Red Wings history to win at least 35 games in his first three seasons. He is currently in the second season of a six-year contract.

He was the runner-up for the Calder Memorial Trophy, for rookie of the year, in 2010, and still holds the single-season NCAA records for goals-against average (1.19) and save percentage (.954) on the 2003-04 season, for the Maine Black Bears.

The Red Wings selected him with their first pick, 64th overall, in 2003.

Goaltending for the Wings is traditionally one of the toughest sports jobs in town, and Howard's difficulties in the shootout this season are well-documented.

He lost one of his shutouts, this season, when the game went to the shootout.

"The unfair aspect of the shootouts is that guys play great games, and it takes away from how well they've played," Osgood said. "Jimmy Howard gets a shutout and I go to my daughter's Christmas concert and everybody wants to talk about how Jimmy Howard's no good in the shootout."