One of which is this, from ESPN's Scott Burnside:
There are lots of interesting names to kick around when it comes to handicapping the Vezina Trophy race as we hit the end of the calendar year -- some familiar, some not. Here’s a look at our top five plus some honorable mentions.
1. Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
A couple of things stand out for us when it comes to the likable Detroit netminder. First, he leads the NHL in the one stat that trumps all others: wins. But beyond his 20 victories, Howard has been one of the busiest goalies in the league, ranking third in minutes played and 10th in shots against. In short, Howard has been a rock for the Wings, especially when they were struggling to find their offensive game, holding the fort with a 1.91 GAA fifth-best in the league.Goaltending has always been an issue in Detroit, real or imagined, and Red Wings goaltenders don't get no respect, in general. Case in point: Howard leads the league in wins and is among the best in other goalie metrics, like save percentage. Yet he wasn't included in the All-Star game balloting. The NHL nominated 18 freakin' goalies, several of whom who have been... ahem... decidedly pedestrian in their performance this year, but didn't see fit to include Howard? No respect.
“He’s been our best player for sure,” Detroit head coach Mike Babcock told ESPN.com during the Wings’ pre-Christmas western road trip.
The Wings, 12-3-0 in their past 15 games, are three points back of Chicago for the Central Division and Western Conference leads, and the rapidly maturing Howard is a big part of the team’s success.
“We’re playing him a lot. We’re riding him, but he’s young,” said Babcock, joking that Howard, 27, has plenty of time to rest later.
But that's OK. Jimmy sez the exclusion from All-Star balloting doesn't bother him and his performance tends to back that up. It'll be interesting to watch how the remainder of the season unfolds but it looks like the NHL has egg all OVER its face at this particular point in time.