Here's a fun game.
Goalie A posted a .917 save percentage this season (92.6% at 5v5). Goalie B posted a .910 save percentage this season (92.5% at 5v5). Which one is Jimmy Howard and which one is calamity/goaltender Steve Mason? (Hint: Jimmy Howard is Goalie B)
Would you look at that, Jimmy Howard was a worse goaltender this year than STEVE MASON.
That's not to say that he's by any means terrible. Howard ranked 15th in 5v5 save percentage this season among goaltenders with at least 41 games played, which is to say he's...average. Not great, not terrible...just there.
Where it gets real fun, though, is if you decrease the minimum games played to 21 to factor in regular backups. With that criteria, Howard falls to 26th in the league. If you look up, you'll notice (Hi, I'm) Chad Johnson sitting 0.09% higher. Boring, old Jimmy Howard is not only unfit to be the Bruins number one goaltender, he wouldn't even be an upgrade over a backup.
Perhaps I'm focusing too much on this season alone. In his five full NHL seasons, he's reached .920 three times, which is nice. Let's look at how his career numbers stack up against his contemporaries (ranked by sv% '05-'06 to present):
Welp, more mediocrity from Howard. Again, I'll stress that he's not bad - he just seems that way to Bruins fans who've grown accustomed to great goaltending. He's proven himself as a dependable goaltender, but hardly spectacular.
Despite evidence to the contrary, he's been highly touted by loyal (yet naive) fans...
Jimmy Howard was ranked 17th best goalie in the NHL? What a joke #doubters— Nícholas Kovalchík (@NickMKovo19) August 1, 2013
Fortunately, Nicholas can now see for himself that 17 is not that ridiculous. You're welcome!
I repeat, even with the playoffs done, Jimmy Howard was the best goalie this playoff.— Octopi Hockeytown (@RedWingsMemes) June 25, 2013
Hmm...not quite (hey look, it's Tuukka).
Pretty sure Jimmy Howard is the best goalie in the NHL. Js.— Alec Nault8⃣ (@AlecNault8) May 30, 2013
Why does nobody agree with me when I say Jimmy Howard is the best in the nhl ? Is there anybody out there that does agree with me ?— Traviee Teehee (@TravieeBoyy) October 3, 2013
...and some of the media:
Sportsnet ranked Jimmy Howard the 3rd best goalie in the league #InHowieWeTrust— T Jail Maltby (@NHL313) September 24, 2013
Don Cherry called Jimmy Howard one of the best goalies in the WORLD!— Octopi Hockeytown (@RedWingsMemes) May 28, 2013
Even Team USA's brain trust (who presumably named him to the team after Howard demonstrated he could spell intensity) are fans of Howard.
Jimmy Howard has no shortage of fans. But this...this is absurd.
Jimmy Howard is a just okay goalie playing on a just okay team. I don't get all the fuss.