There was a lot of joy in Jimmy Howard’s voice.
“The legacy continues,” chuckled the former University of Maine All-American goaltender and current Detroit Red Wings star.
Howard was referring to James Russell Howard IV, who was born three weeks ago.
He is the first child of Howard and wife, Rachel.
Howard was in the room when his wife gave birth and he said mother and baby are doing fine.
“It was great. I was on the road for one night and then we had a two-week homestand so I got to spend a lot of time with the little guy and I was able to get to know him,” said Howard.
He said his wife has been “awesome” in taking care of his namesake and allowing him to get his sleep on the nights before a game. She gets up to feed the baby.
“I try to help out as much as I can but I don’t feel like I’m doing enough,” said Howard.
He said it is no coincidence that he is off to his best start in the same year he becomes a father for the first time.
“Now that I have a son, he gives me even more incentive (to play well),” said Howard who lives in the off-season on Green Lake in Dedham with Rachel (Miller) and, now, their son.
Entering Thursday night’s game at San Jose, Howard had the league’s third-lowest goals-against average (1.69) and fifth-best save percentage (.935). He was also tied for third in wins (8-4-1).
“It has been a great start and a lot of it has to do with being a little more patient and not being overly aggressive,” Howard said. “As time progresses, you learn more about yourself and more about the game. I’m not overpursuing. I’m sitting back and reading plays more and that’s helping. I’m getting myself in better position. I’ve been using my size to my advantage. I’ve been forcing shooters to make a good shot to beat me.”
Howard had his best playoff performance with the Wings last season, going 7-4 with a 2.50 GAA and a .923 save percentage, and that has given him more confidence, he said.
Howard, who has a career record of 83-14-16 with eight shutouts, a 2.46 GAA and a .917 save percentage, said he is taking everything in stride.
“I go out and play hard every single night. I still feel I have a lot to prove. I think I can be an elite goalie at this level,” said Howard.
Howard had a chance to play with former Black Bear Hobey Baker Award finalist and All-American Gustav Nyquist, who is a rookie this season. Nyquist played in several exhibition games and one regular season game and he is currently with Detroit’s AHL team in Grand Rapids along with former Black Bear defenseman Doug Janik.
“Gustav’s going to be great. You can tell he’s a special player. He works hard and has great vision on the ice. He fits in to the style of play the Red Wings organization likes to play,” said Howard.
Howard is one of five former Black Bears currently on an NHL roster.
Teddy Purcell and Brett Clark are having productive seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Right wing Purcell, who made a name for himself with 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 18 playoff games last season, is the team’s fifth-leading point-getter with 12 on five goals and seven assists in 16 games. Veteran defenseman Clark has two goals, two assists in 17 games.
Former Lightning defenseman Mike Lundin, who signed with the Minnesota Wild in the offseason, has been bothered by back spasms and has yet to play for his home-state Wild.
However, he is traveling with the team and is getting closer to making his Wild debut.
Los Angeles Kings left wing Dustin Penner has been bothered by nagging injuries and has two assists in 14 games. He is currently on the injured reserve list with a hand injury.