Jimmy Howard Named All-Star, Believes Larkin 'Deserves To Be There More'

The netminder is currently Detroit's lone representative.

Will Burchfield
January 03, 2019 - 9:28 am

© Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

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Make no mistake, Jimmy Howard is excited he's headed to the All-Star Game. He also feels like Dylan Larkin got robbed. 

The NHL announced the rosters for each division on Wednesday night, as selected by the league's Hockey Operations Department. As of now, Howard is Detroit's lone representative from the Atlantic. 

"It's a true honor to be able to represent this organization in the All-Star Game. I kind of think Larks deserves to be there probably even more," Howard said after the Red Wings' 4-3 loss to the Flames Wednesday night. "But it'll be fun. I'm looking forward to it for my boys. They're at that age now where they're starting to learn players around the league, and they're going to be really excited when they find out tonight." 

It's an understandable sentiment. The 22-year-old Larkin, who went to the All-Star Game as a rookie in 2016, is in the midst of the best season of his career. He leads the Wings with 39 points through 42 games, and he's doing it against the opposition's top players every night. Only Mike Green has played more minutes per game. 

Of course, to include Larkin on the Atlantic Division roster, one of these five forwards would have to be excluded: 

  • Nikita Kucherov (65 points in 40 games)
  • David Pastrnak (50 points in 40 games)
  • Jack Eichel (49 points in 40 games)
  • John Tavares (44 points in 39 games)
  • Steven Stamkos (43 points in 40 games)

Auston Matthews, the sixth forward, was voted captain of the Atlantic by the fans. He ranks sixth in the NHL in points per game. As good as Larkin has been, the reality is he plays in a division where several forwards have been better. 

There's still a chance he could head to San Jose for All-Star Weekend Jan. 25-26. The NHL is allowing the fans to select one more player from each division via the Last Men In Vote, and Larkin is Detroit's nominee. Voting runs from Jan. 3-Jan.10. 

As for Howard, his second career All-Star nod is a deserving honor. He's kept the Red Wings in just about every game this season while playing behind a defense that's surrendering droves of high-quality scoring chances. His .918 save percentage, which ranks 10th in the NHL and fourth in the Atlantic among goalies with at least 20 appearances, actually sells his first-half performance short. 

After Larkin, Howard has been Detroit's best player. Jeff Blashill is proud of the 34-year-old for reestablishing himself as one of the top goalies in the league.

"I'd say Jimmy's rewarded for the work he's put in over the last three and a half years, to be honest with you," Blashill said. "I told him, I'm real proud of him, I'm real happy for him. Everybody in this room knows that there was a time where it looked like he was going to be a backup, and he decided to change his game, go to work, be mentally tough, hang in there, stay with it, just keep working and getting better.

"Really, it's a lesson that we could use as a hockey team right now. You have to be resilient, you have to find ways to keep getting better and you have to stay mentally tough and work, so I think it's great for Jimmy." 

Detroit's loss on Wednesday night was its 10th in the last 11 games. The team has nine games to right the ship before the All-Star break.

And its fans have one week to ensure Larkin joins Howard in San Jose.