Tag: Petr Mrazek

Detroit Red Wings v Buffalo Sabres

Red Wings ’15-16 Outlook


For a franchise associated almost as much with consistency as it is with excellence, this has been a tumultuous offseason for the Detroit Red Wings.

After a decade of scowls and strong coaching, Mike Babcock fled for Toronto, prompting the Red Wings to hand the keys to Jeff Blashill. Forecasting the impact of such a change is difficult, but Blashill will certainly be under pressure.

The winds of change swept through the roster, too. The team finally swept away the error of adding Stephen Weiss by buying him out. Mike Green provides a big upgrade in the “right-handed offensive defenseman” category over Marek Zidlicky, while GM Ken Holland also added some veteran skill by signing Brad Richards.

Bolstering a competitive lineup with some useful free agents provides some reason for optimism. Pessimists will linger on questions of health, however.

Most obviously, Pavel Datsyuk is expected to miss at least the first month of the 2015-16 season, and it’s plausible that such a situation would be a best-case scenario. Johan Franzen’s career also appears to be in limbo, as he may functionally retire.

The Red Wings often go as far as Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg can take them, but injuries have really saddled those world-class workhorses.

There’s been a silver lining to the unfortunate injury issues for Detroit’s dynamic duo: players like Gustav Nyquist received a little extra room to spread their wings. Key players on the Red Wings roster now have a decent amount of experience absorbing heightened roles, so the shock of starting 2015-16 without Datsyuk should at least be tempered a bit.

Goaltending is a question, at least as far as determining if the majority of starts go to Jimmy Howard or Petr Mrazek. There’s also maybe a bit more age on the blueline than some may want (Green’s one of the younger defensemen, and he’s already 29).

All things considered, it seems like the Red Wings may settle into a reality that once seemed unthinkable: scratching and clawing for a playoff spot rather than cruising in.

That said, if you’d like to weigh in on Detroit’s chances of making the playoffs for a 25th consecutive season, vote in the poll here.

Red Wings’ biggest question: goaltending


Jimmy Howard is getting paid like he’s the Detroit Red Wings’ starting goalie, but by no means is that role guaranteed for him.

There’s a solid chance that the Red Wings will enjoy good-to-great goaltending in 2015-16, yet there’s enough uncertainty surrounding the duo – will it be Howard, Petr Mrazek or a platoon scenario? – that the position stands as a question mark.

With about a $5.3 million cap hit that runs through 2018-19, the Red Wings likely hope that Howard can at least play well and often enough to drive up his trade value.

The 31-year-old boasts a respectable career save percentage of .916, yet the last two seasons have been marred by inconsistency and injuries. In both years, he played a bit more than 50 games, managed a so-so .910 save percentage and aroused some doubts along the way.

Meanwhile, it seemed like Mrazek jumped in line a bit, especially when he snared the No. 1 duty during Detroit’s tight first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 25-year-old put up great numbers in the regular season and postseason, prompting GM Ken Holland to declare open competition after players cleared out their lockers back in May:

“My message to those guys today was professional sports is about competition and the competition begins again in September,” Holland said, according to NHL.com.

“If you didn’t like the way the season ended, then get in the gym and do the work and be ready to be better next season. If you liked the way it finished, then get in the gym and make sure things keep going your way.”

Again, this situation could in fact be pretty lucrative for the Red Wings, as both goalies have shown flashes of brilliance. Still, it’s at least something to ponder as training camp approaches.

It’s Detroit Red Wings Day at PHT

150805 mrazek

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Detroit Red Wings.

After Detroit just barely managed to squeak into the playoffs in 2013-14, it seemed reasonable to wonder if its longstanding postseason streak dating back to the 1990-91 campaign was drawing to a close. However, the Red Wings’ efforts to rebuild on the fly continued and at first it looked like they would far exceed expectations.

Detroit got off to a 17-6-5 start, prompting Red Wings coach Mike Babcock to call the ’14-15 squad their best team since they went to the Stanley Cup Final in 2009. The following day Detroit began a six-game losing streak and while that wasn’t the start of a collapse for the Red Wings, it did illustrate that this was an inconsistent team.

Further complicating matters was the decline of goaltender Jimmy Howard, who posted a 2.99 GAA and .896 save percentage in 21 games after the all-star break. That prompted Detroit to lean on 23-year-old Petr Mrazek instead. The young netminder helped keep Detroit above water in the playoff race as its 43-25-14 record secured the squad a postseason berth by a four-point margin.

That set up a first round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning with Mrazek starting between the pipes. Detroit held its own against the eventual Stanley Cup finalists and Mrazek certainly had his moments as he posted two shutouts and turned aside 15 of 16 shots in Game 7. The one shot that got by him was all it took though as Lightning netminder Ben Bishop denied all 31 of the Red Wings’ shots on goal.

And with that, Detroit suffered its second straight first-round exit.

Off-season recap

The Detroit Red Wings’ playoff appearance streak started well before Babcock took over as the Red Wings’ bench boss, but he kept that legacy going for another decade and now he’s gone. Following Babcock’s decision to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit appointed Jeff Blashill to serve as the team’s second bench boss since the start of the salary cap era.

He’s inherited a team with some talented young players, but also two superstars in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk that are in the twilight of their careers. On the plus side, GM Ken Holland has provided Blashill with some reinforcements to aide in his rookie campaign.

Detroit signed offensive defenseman Mike Green to a three-year deal, $18 million deal and added veteran center Brad Richards to a one-year contract. Both could prove to be valuable additions with Green aiding Detroit with the man advantage and providing them with a right-handed shot from the blueline while Richards might serve on the second-line, allowing Datsyuk (once he’s healthy) and Zetterberg to play together.

With those additions, Detroit will attempt to build on its 2014-15 run and win its first playoff series since 2013.

Mrazek knows ‘only one goalie can play’ as battle with Howard awaits

Florida Panthers v Detroit Red Wings

This could be a really big year of change for the Red Wings.

The club will have a new coach when training camp opens next fall and, in goal, there’ll be a fight for playing time that could see longtime starter Jimmy Howard pushed into a timeshare — or even a backup role.

The guy battling Howard in net, Petr Mrazek, knows the situation at hand.

“Only one goalie can play,” Mrazek said recently, per the Detroit News. “I’m going to do my best to play as much as I want to and do the best job.”

Mrazek overtaking Howard’s No. 1 gig was one of the biggest stories of the postseason; the 23-year-old Czech rookie, who’d never played in the playoffs before, got the nod from Mike Babcock and was stellar in a seven-game opening-round loss to the Lightning, posting a 2.11 GAA and .925 save percentage.

The demotion was frustrating for Howard but, during his end-of-year media availability, he tried to keep a level head. The 31-year-old said he wouldn’t demand a trade, noting that he looked forward to competing for the No. 1 gig next season.

The issue, of course, is that Howard carries a pretty hefty pricetag — a six-year, $31.8 million deal with a $5.3M average annual cap hit — and has four years left on the contract. He’s also eight years older than Mrazek, who’s widely considered to be the franchise’s goalie of the future… and based on what we saw in the playoffs, the future might be now.

What’s more, Wings GM Ken Holland all but guaranteed a goalie battle for next year, saying Mrazek would definitely be with the Red Wings next season — even though Mrazek could be sent down to AHL Grand Rapids without having to clear waivers.

Canadiens need to be more than Carey Price

Ondrej Palat, Carey Price, Andrei Markov

Carey Price may be the deserving favorite to win the Hart Trophy, but his numbers in six games against the Lightning were anything but MVP-caliber.

Price went 2-4 versus Tampa Bay, allowing 16 goals on 154 shots, for a save percentage of .896.

His performance was actually quite reminiscent of the one by the last goalie to win the Hart, Montreal’s Jose Theodore in 2001-02. Also in the second round, Theodore struggled against Carolina, allowing 14 goals in his final three games combined, and the Habs went out in six.

That’s the risk a team takes when it relies heavily on its goalie. The Canadiens were not a particularly good possession team this season. They gave up more shots than they registered. They won their division largely because they had the NHL’s highest save percentage (.926).

“I didn’t play well enough for us to win the series,” Price said. “I think that’s basically more or less what it comes down to.”

That may sound like he’s being overly hard on himself, but what he said wasn’t untrue. His counterpart, Ben Bishop, finished the series with a .940 save percentage. The Lightning clearly won the goaltending battle. Hands up those who predicted that Bishop would outplay Price. Heck, a couple of weeks ago we were wondering if Bishop would be his team’s Achilles’ heel in Game 7 versus Detroit. You’ll recall that everyone was on the Petr Mrazek train then. What have we said all season about the unpredictability of the goaltending position?

“As a team we’ve got to understand that Carey’s the best goalie in the world but he’s also human, things are going to happen out of his control sometimes and we’ve got to respond for him,” defenseman P.K. Subban said.

With Montreal’s season over, that response now falls to GM Marc Bergevin. But his task won’t be an easy one. Unless you can think of a simple way to add an elite center. Because asking Alex Galchenyuk to be that guy next season is a pretty big ask for a 21-year-old. All we know is a team with Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais as its top two centers is going to be hard-pressed to win the Stanley Cup, even with brilliant goaltending.

Related: Why your team won’t win the Stanley Cup