DETROIT – Goalie Petr Mrazek possesses a certain cockiness that his coach seems to admire.
“He's got a swagger about him. He thinks he's good and he plays good,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday afternoon.
Following the team’s practice at Joe Louis Arena, Babcock announced that the colorful 22-year-old netminder will spell Jimmy Howard between the pipes Thursday in Winnipeg.
For Mrazek, Thursday’s game is much more than just his season debut and not so much of a wow factor as it once was.
“It’s I think a little different now that it was two years ago,” he said. “The first time I came here it was – I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to think about the NHL. I figured it was going to be faster. Now it’s a year and a half since I played my first NHL game, so it’s more comfortable now.”
In eight career starts with the Red Wings, Mrazek has produced a 3-5-0 record with a 1.80 goals-against average, a .926 save percentage and two shutouts – both coming last season at Edmonton (Nov. 2) and St. Louis (Apr. 13).
Mrazek was recalled from Grand Rapids two weeks ago after backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson suffered a dislocated left shoulder. But with the schedule the way it was, Howard started the last six games, and Mrazek was returned to Grand Rapids to start two games last weekend.
Now that the Wings are playing every other night until Dec.8, Mrazek gets his chance against the Jets at MTS Centre.
“I hope I will play good and we’re going to win there,” Mrazek said. “I was happy that I went there and played two games, because the start we had in Grand Rapids wasn’t good. We didn’t play much. We’d play once a week and I just got cold. I was up here a couple of days and they asked me to go back there and play two games, so I was pretty happy for that.”
Now Mrazek is being asked to play a contributing role in the middle game of the team’s three-game road trip, which concludes Saturday in Toronto.
“It's a big game for him tomorrow night,” Babcock said. “He's like lots of kids, he plays better than he practices, he's got to learn how to practice good so he can play good consistently. But he's a real gamer and he's been good.”