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Mrazek, Howard to battle for No. 1 job with Red Wings

by Paul Harris /

DETROIT -- Petr Mrazek was the Detroit Red Wings goaltender for their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning and played well in a seven-game defeat, but he'll have to compete with Jimmy Howard to claim the No. 1 job next season, general manager Ken Holland said Friday.

"My message to those guys today was professional sports is about competition and the competition begins again in September," Holland said as the Red Wings cleaned out their lockers at Joe Louis Arena.

"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."

Howard has been Detroit's starting goalie since the 2009-10 season.

He got off to an outstanding start this season and was named an all-star on Jan. 10. But he injured his groin in the first period of a game against the Washington Capitals hours after the announcement and missed a month.

When Howard returned, he couldn't regain his previous form, and Mrazek, who played well in his absence, got an opportunity. Mrazek was spectacular at times but inconsistent. Howard continued to struggle for the most part.

Howard was 23-13-11 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .910 saves percentage. Mrazek was 16-9-2 with a 2.38 GAA and .918 save percentage.

Mrazek started all seven games against the Lightning and had a 2.11 GAA, .925 save percentage and two shutouts.

"He's earned the right to play. He's played well," Howard said.

Howard, 31, said he would not ask to be traded.

"You constantly have to reinvent yourself, you know it's up to the individual, the person to be prepared for every situation," he said. "I can only control what I can control and that's myself and I'm going to continue to do what I do and that’s work extremely hard and try to get better."

Mrazek, 23, wasn't available to the media Friday.

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