DETROIT -- The Red Wings' Jimmy Howard insists he's content, insulated within his own little bubble.
There are no newspapers, no message boards and no talk radio in that sanctuary. No barometers gauging any potential public nervousness over the goalie's readiness with the playoffs three weeks away.
"You don't read," he said. "You don't listen. You don't watch. I've learned that very quickly. I watch a lot of comedy shows to keep me in a good mood."
Whatever he needs, whatever it takes to get Howard comfortable and confident for the impending playoff grind, he should do it.
There is no Plan B, should he struggle when these nights really matter next month. It's increasingly looking as though they can't count on a still hobbled Chris Osgood ascending from the ashes as a playoff insurance policy. That's why Howard's mental rebound Wednesday from getting yanked Monday was more important than a 2-1 Vancouver victory that just might have guaranteed the Canucks home-ice advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs.
He did his job. He kept the Wings in the game. When healthy and firing from all cylinders, the Wings don't need spectacular goaltending. But they were limited offensively Wednesday with Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi sidelined with assorted ambiguous NHL injuries.
But there's nothing mysterious regarding the Wings' vulnerabilities. It's the back end. Are they deep enough defensively, especially if Brian Rafalski can't remain healthy for an extended period of time?
But as always is the case in Detroit, when the first sign of spring arrives, a young hockey fan's heart turns to worrying about whether the goaltending can hold up through four long playoff series .
Don't sweat it. Howard will be fine. He was Roberto Luongo's equal Wednesday.
"I'm just grateful that I've got an organization behind me that has confidence in me," he said. "I've been able to prove that I have the mental toughness."
There are no organizational doubts regarding Howard. You don't give a guy a two-year, $4.5-million contract extension as the Wings did this season unless you're certain he's your guy. But the Wings wanted a veteran contingency, considering their inability to land Evgeni Nabokov prior to the trading deadline. They initially hoped that Ozzie would get a little playing time in the final eight games, gradually eliminating the rust after sports hernia surgery in January.
But the Wings shut him down Wednesday, placing him the long-term injured reserved . The decision means that the earliest Osgood could return would be April 8, with only two games remaining in the regular season.
Howard leaned heavily last year on Osgood's counsel during his first playoffs . It helped having him at his side in the dressing room. That might not be the case this time.
Howard looks ready to step forward and answer any remaining critics -- even if he chooses not to listen to them in the first place.