Detroit's Howard tops fresh faces between pipes 

January, 13, 2010

About last night ... it wasn't the best evening to be a rookie goalie. The Detroit Red Wings' Jimmy Howard, Washington Capitals' Michal Neuvirth and Edmonton Oilers' Jeff Deslauriers all got the hook in ugly losses. And, it didn't get much better for Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who dropped a home-ice 4-2 decision to bottom-feeding Carolina.

Boston Bruins stopper Tuukka Rask is probably thrilled his team had the night off.

Still, I figured it was time to update my rookie goaltender rankings. Here are my top five.

1. Jimmy Howard, Red Wings: After a slow start, the American-born stopper has been a lifesaver for the injury-riddled Red Wings. Prior to last night's blowout loss on Long Island (which was his ninth straight start), Howard had given up two goals or fewer in six of seven. He was particularly brilliant, making 51 stops, in a 2-1 win in Los Angeles last Thursday. In 29 appearances, Howard has 16 wins, a 2.21 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage. Right now, the 25-year-old goaltender might be the club's MVP.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.