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Mrazek homecoming

by Dana Wakiji / Detroit Red Wings
Dylan Larkin had a Halloween idea that Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh would appreciate. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Detroit Red Wings)

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Today is a homecoming of sorts for Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek.

Mrazek, 23, played for the OHL's Ottawa 67's from the 2009-10 season through the 2011-12 season.

In those three seasons, Mrazek was 75-37-10 with a 2.87 goals-against average and .916 save percentage.

"I have some good memories here," Mrazek said after the optional Saturday morning skate. "I played a couple of games in this arena before so it's going to be nice to be back."

When he arrived at Ottawa's Canadian Tire Centre, Mrazek was greeted by Tom Dempsey, who was his goaltending coach with the 67's.

"I'm happy I'm still in touch with him, talk to him almost every game I play," Mrazek said. "It's nice that he had the time to come here. I have a great friendship with him, we spend lots of time together and he helped me so much in my career."

Dempsey brought some of his young goaltending proteges from Carleton University, where he coaches the goaltenders for both the men's and women's teams.

""He has coached (Dominik Hasek, Marc-Andre Fleury," Mrazek said. "It's nice to see that he did something good in his coaching career."

Mrazek also knows a couple of the current Ottawa Senators, defenseman Cody Ceci and center Shane Prince, former teammates with the 67's.

"It’s great to see those guys playing in the NHL and you can see each other and even (Tyler) Toffoli in LA and some other guys," Mrazek said. "So it’s really nice and I’m happy for all of them."

Although Mrazek will have friends and fans around for the game, Wings coach Jeff Blashill doesn't believe that will distract him.

"I don’t think it’ll change Petr’s mindset at all," Blashill said. "I think Petr approaches each game the same way, whether it’s a game in the summer, a game in the playoffs or a game in Ottawa, where he used to play. He’ll take the same approach and we’re going to need him to be very good."

With the Wings in a 1-5-1 funk since starting the season 3-0, it might fall on Mrazek to try to get them out of it with a stellar performance.

But Mrazek isn't putting any extra pressure on himself.

"Just be focused, be positive, play hard and I think we're going to play well today," he said. "We're going to play hard and we don't need to be worried about if we played a bad game before."

POWER PLAY IMPROVING, STILL NEEDS MORE: The Wings scored a goal with the two-man advantage Friday night against Ottawa but still feel they can do more.

Currently, the Wings are 18th in the league on the power play, scoring at a 16.7 percent clip, tied with the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche.

"I think in the power play especially process is the No. 1 thing because your best power plays in the word, four out of five times don’t score, lots of times, most power plays over the course of the season the high end at the end of the year is 20, maybe 25 percent, so maybe three out of four, so I think it’s process," Blashill said. "Within that, does it generate momentum? By generating momentum are you spending lots of time in their end?

"We scored the 5-on-3, which is nice, but you got to score when you get 5-on-3. I think we can still be a little bit better. Five on four face-offs, I had us much lower than what NHL stats had us. We’re going to have to win more face-offs, so we spend a little more time in the zone. The unit with (Dylan) Larkin and (Teemu) Pulkkinen had chances off the rush, but they didn’t keep the puck in the zone once they got the chances off the rush, so we got to spend more time in the zone."

Because the Wings haven't been scoring a lot in general, they might be pressing a bit.

"I think we gotta get the puck to the net," Larkin said. "We moved it around pretty well and we get in the zone pretty well and I think just getting numbers around the net and getting shots there and finding new spots, getting a few dirty goals to get the confidence back and then we can start making plays."

HALLOWEEN FUN: University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh would very likely approve of Larkin's approach to Halloween.

Harbaugh recently told WXYZ-TV that he advised his kids to have two costumes and to jog from house to house, run home and change into the second costume and then hit the same houses to maximize their candy collection.

Larkin said he usually wore a sports-themed costume.

"I'd just wear my Wings jersey and I'd wear rollerblades so I could get to the houses faster and cover some ground," Larkin said.

Goaltender Jimmy Howard didn't remember most of his childhood costumes but said when he was very young, his dad dressed him as Dracula and showed him how he looked in the mirror.

"I saw myself and started crying because I got scared," Howard said.

For the Wings' recent Halloween party, Howard got a makeup artist to make him look like the Joker from the recent Dark Knight Batman movies.

HALLOWEEN BIRTHDAY: Happy birthday to Wings prospect Evegeny Svechnikov, who turns 19 today.

Svechnikov, the Wings' first-round pick (19th overall) in this past draft, has 10 goals and six assists in 13 games for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

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