Howard and Red Wings excited he's back

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — He's back.

And while it's obvious he's thrilled with it, so, too, are the Red Wings.

"Especially at the start of the year before we earned our confidence, Howie was our best player in those first 10 games," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said of goaltender Jimmy Howard. "It's important for him to get up and running and have him in net and feel good."

After tearing his groin Jan. 10, Howard had not played until relieving Petr Mrazek for the third period of Wednesday's 4-1 loss to the Penguins.

"You can work out and practice as much as you want, but until you get in there and get a taste of the speed again, you sort of forget what it's like," said Howard, who'll start Saturday night against the Jets.

Before the injury, Howard was 16-7-7 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .920 save percentage.

With Howard back, the thought was Mrazek would be headed to Grand Rapids. But that won't happen just yet.

Mrazek is Howard's backup tonight, with Jonas Gustavsson the third option and a healthy scratch.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and Babcock said the situation will be monitored day to day, but it's unlikely Mrazek will sit at the NHL level for long rather than play regularly in Grand Rapids.

"(Mrazek) has to play, for sure," Babcock said. "But let's just get our goaltending situation sorted out and then we'll decide what we're doing."

The Red Wings went 9-2-0 with Mrazek in goal.

Jets reinforced

Winnipeg ventures into Joe Louis Arena just days after making a huge trade, acquiring defenseman Tyler Myers and forward Drew Stafford from the Sabres.

And, the Jets own one of the two wild cards in the West.

"They've done a real good job over there and no question, they're deep," Babcock said.

'Sergei was a star'

Former Red Wings great Sergei Fedorov was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday. Babcock was his coach with the Ducks in 2003-04.

"Sergei was a star, had elite skill," Babcock said. "He was a real good man. He was an elite performer in the league for a long time, whether he was playing center ice or defense or representing his country, he was a great player."

Fedorov and former teammate Nicklas Lidstrom are eligible for the 2015 Hockey Hall of Fame class this summer.

Jets at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7 p.m. Saturday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

Outlook: The Red Wings are 1-0 against the Jets. ... Winnipeg is on a 3-5-2 run. ... LW Andrew Ladd (45 points, 18 goals) and C Bryan Little (44 points) pace the Jets.