As they scrutinize the schedule for the Stanley Cup playoffs, many observers search the conference quarterfinals for the hot goaltender on the hot team which annually garners the big upset, when a seventh- or eighth-seeded team eliminates a first or second.

Jimmy Howard was named the NHL's "first star" for the week ending April 28.

No one rivaled him.

Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg, who led all skaters with 10 points, including two goals and five power-play points, could manage only "second star" status.

With his team teetering on the brink of elimination from the playoffs, Howard went 4-0-0, with two shutouts, a 0.75 goals-against average and a .969 save percentage.

"Well, I think that the key guys did it, starting with Howie," Zetterberg said of the run to the playoffs.

"I think he played unbelievable for us, here, and gave us a chance to win every night."

Long ago, Howard settled who would be the Red Wings goaltender of this generation.

He played better in the playoffs each of his first two years than last season, but the 4-1 series loss to the Predators in 2012 was none of the best performances by the Red Wings.

Howard carried a huge workload in 2012-13, playing in 42 of 48 games, 2,446 minutes out of 2,914 for a rebuilding team with an inexperienced defense.

"He's been great," rookie defenseman Brendan Smith said. "Obviously, he's been the backbone for us all year."