Blashill very happy with Howard, Mrazek

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Who is the Detroit Red Wings’ number one goaltender? That’s a question that might not be answered by the end of training camp.

“I think both have played really, really well, which is what my thought process was going in,” Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said, per the Detroit Free Press. “We have two guys that both have proven at different times to be elite and both can be elite.

“We’ll keep watching them and either create separation or as it has been so far, both played really well.”

A year ago, Jimmy Howard was the team’s clear starter and he certainly played like a top-tier goalie in the first half of the 2014-15 campaign. However, he suffered a groin injury and while he was able to return from that, he was inconsistent. The Red Wings consequently went with Petr Mrazek in the playoffs instead.

Mrazek had a strong campaign and largely held his own against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round, posting a 2.11 GAA and .925 save percentage in seven playoff contests. That coupled with his success under Blashill when they led the AHL Grand Rapids to the Calder Cup in 2013 puts him in an interesting position, but Blashill also thinks highly of Howard.

“The first half of last year he was an All-Star for a reason, he was having an elite year,” Blashill said. “You never know how guys come back from injury, you never know how they feel. What I see right now is a guy who looks confident. He is patient in the net and pucks are sticking to him. He looks confident and he is making big saves at big moments.”

It’s worth noting that Detroit has four sets of back-to-back games in October and another two in November, so both goalies are likely to get a healthy number of starts early. If either netminder has separated himself at that point then we might have the answer to our question.