TAMPA, Fla. – Petr Mrazek has recovered enough from a flu bug that he’ll dress as a backup but not start for the Red Wings when they play the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday at Amalie Arena.
“We still got to talk here, but we might send Jared (Coreau) back and it would be a situation where we think Petr could play if he needed to play,” Wings coach Jeff Blashill said Monday afternoon. “Whether we’ll start him or not is another conversation, but right now it looks like he’s getting healthy.”
Blashill confirmed that Jimmy Howard will get his third consecutive start on Tuesday.
Howard has been outstanding lately, which bodes well for the Red Wings, who are trying to ward off Philadelphia and New Jersey for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Since coming in to relief Mrazek in Pittsburgh on Feb. 18, Howard has been magnificent, posting a 3-2-1 record with a 2.15 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.
It’s the first time Howard will started a third consecutive game since late last season when he posted a 1-1-1 record with a 3-1 loss at Tampa Bay followed by a 2-1 overtime win against St. Louis and a 5-4 overtime loss to Arizona.
“Jimmy’s been huge for us here last two games, really, really come in and played with a lot of poise and making the big saves and playing the puck with confidence,” captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “It’s nice for us to see that we have two good goalies that are ready to play when they get the call.”
Earlier this season, the Wings talked about the luxury of having two top-flight goaltenders in Howard and Mrazek.
“That was probably the hope we had going into the season, that we had two goalies that could really, really be No. 1,” Zetterberg said. “Lately, when Petr was out Howie came in and was playing like a No. 1 goalie.”
Like Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm before him, Mrazek had a bout with a flu bug that had him down for more than a few days. The goalie said at its peak – last Wednesday night in Columbus – he had a fever of 39.5 degrees Celsius, which translates into a 103.1 degrees Fahrenheit.
“I was so cold I had the room up to 80 degrees and I felt like it was 20,” Mrazek said. “It was tough. I’m glad it’s over.”
Still feeling drained, Mrazek pushed himself to get back on the ice last Saturday, but he only lasted about 15 minutes before stepping back off the ice at BB&T Center.
“I had a rough couple days, like three days I couldn’t do anything,” he said. “Then it turned pretty quickly. I started feeling better and it continues. Just need to stay positive, work hard and waiting to get back in the net.”
Monday afternoon, the Wings reassigned Coreau to the Griffins. He will rejoin the AHL club in Texas where they will finish up a 12-day road trip on Tuesday with a game in San Antonio.
EXTENSION FOR TANGRADI: The Red Wings signed Griffins forward Eric Tangradi to a two-year contract extension on Monday. The contract is a two-way deal for both years.
The 27-year-old journeyman has been a pleasant surprise since joining the Wings’ franchise as a free-agent signing last summer. He has produced career highs for goals (24), assists (25), points (49) and plus-minus (+21) in 60 games for the AHL Griffins.
He played one game with the Red Wings this season, replacing Teemu Pulkkinen (upper-body injury) in the lineup in a 4-2 win against the New York Islanders in Brooklyn on Jan. 25.
“He’s had a very good year,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He was motivated to stay and I think he can come up and play for us if we needed him. He played the one game on the Island. He’s had mid-25 goals, he’s a big guy … so hence the two-year deal.”
The Wings are the fourth NHL organization for Tangradi, who was a second-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2007. He’s also played for Winnipeg and Montreal.
For most of his time in Grand Rapids this season, Andreas Athanasiou skated on the Griffins’ top line with Tangradi and Anthony Mantha.
“Yeah, we were a good line,” Athanasiou said. “We played together for quite some time this year, so I enjoyed playing with him a lot. … He’s got that NHL experience and he’s a big body with a good skill set and he knows how to put the puck in the net.”