Red Wings' Jimmy Howard has helped playoff push

DETROIT – Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard says he's not surprised by his success as a rookie.

Howard ranks among the NHL's top 10 in wins, goals-against average and save percentage.

He has been a key reason Detroit will be in a position to pad its lead for the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs Friday night at home against the Minnesota Wild.

Howard insists he knew he was prepared for his pressure-packed job after four years of seasoning in the minors and three seasons at the University of Maine.

Chris Osgood says he was frustrated initially when Howard emerged as the No. 1 goalie this season, but now embraces his role as a mentor.

Hockey analyst and former goaltender Darren Pang notices Howard's calm demeanor has become an asset.