DETROIT – Moxie is a noun that defines someone’s courage, determination, skill and know-how.
It’s also an idiom to coach Mike Babcock has used recently in characterizing Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek, who is in an unyielding position as a 22-year-old rookie.
For the second time in less than two weeks, Mrazek wasn’t around at the conclusion of Thursday’s game in Tampa Bay. He was also pulled against Buffalo (Jan. 18). In those two games he allowed a combined eight goals on 22 shots, and was relieved by fourth-string goalie Tom McCollum.
Highly regarded in the Red Wings’ organization, Mrazek has started seven straight games since Jimmy Howard went down with a slightly torn groin muscle at Washington on Jan. 10. Prior to Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Lightning, Mrazek had won six straight, mainly because the team provided enough offense to compensate for the 24 goals surrendered – that’s a 3.44 goals-against average – since replacing Howard in the lineup.
“That’s what life is, it’s about responding,” Babcock said. “Some guys are better than others. Anytime you’ve got a young goalie and I talked about how (Ben) Bishop’s on his third team, Howie spent five years in the minors. It’s an impossible position. It’s hard. You’ve got to be rock solid between your ears. So a little adversity. What does he do tomorrow? Let’s watch.”
Mrazek will make his 14th start of the season for the Red Wings when they host the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders in a rare Saturday matinee at Joe Louis Arena.
“Sometimes the pucks go in and you don’t know why, so you just have to battle,” Mrazek said. “You have to be mentally strong and enjoy it. That’s what I do and when I said after yesterday, after the second period just flush (it) out and I didn’t think about it anymore.”
That’s the fortitude Babcock likes in the young goaltender.
The Wings are one of three NHL teams to have used four goalies this season: Howard, Mrazek, McCollum and Jonas Gustavsson. Minnesota and Anaheim are the others. The Wings and Ducks are the only teams to have four different goalies win a game for them this season.
The last time four different goalies produced wins in the same season for the Red Wings was 2003-04 when they had Curtis Joseph (16), Manny Legace (23), Dominik Hasek (8) and Marc Lamothe (1). Last time they played four different goalies in the same season was 2010-11 (Howard, McCollum, Chris Osgood and Joey MacDonald).
Defense - DET
Goals: 0 | Assists: 2 | Pts: 2
Shots: 7 | +/-: 4
On Friday, the Red Wings made roster moves affecting three defensemen – placing Brian Lashoff
on waivers, recalling Alexey Marchenko
, and reassigning Xaxier Ouellet.
Once Lashoff is claimed by another NHL club or clears waivers at noon Saturday, it will create a roster spot to reactivate Gustavsson, who will be sent to AHL Grand Rapids for a rehabilitation stint this weekend. Gustavsson is recovering from a shoulder injury sustained on Nov. 5.
The 24-year-old Lashoff hasn’t played since Dec. 29 in Boston. By sending him to Grand Rapids it will give him much needed playing time on a consistent basis.
Marchenko is an intriguing figure for the Red Wings. At 6-foot-2 and 212 pounds, he brings a big, booming, right-handed shot to the lineup, which the Wings have sorely missed.
“Marchy is a great defensive player, smart guy, right-handed, so I think he’s really good,” Mrazek said. “He’s two-way. I didn’t see him play for a while now but I heard from the guys he tries to be offensive. He can jump in the front and then be back on the D. That’s really good for him.”
Marchenko is tied for second in scoring among Griffins’ defensemen, producing two goals and 17 points in 42 games this season. He also ranks first on the AHL team with a plus-15 rating.
Ouellet played in the past 12 games. This season, he has two goals, three points and a plus-7 rating in 21 games spanning three separate recalls by the Red Wings.
“X played really good the last couple of games, but we made this decision a while ago because we wanted to have a look at Marchy and see what he could bring,” Babcock said. “(Jeff Blashill) said he’s played real well down there so we’re going to give him an opportunity.”
Marchenko, who turns 23 years old on Sunday, made his NHL debut with the Red Wings last January in Dallas.
“He’s only played one game for me,” Babcock said. “Ken (Holland) and guys who go watch him play and Blash have said is that he’s a big body. We think he’s a good player and we’re going to give him an opportunity to see what he can do for us as we try to figure out how to have the best possible lineup we can to help win every game.”
Meanwhile, Gustavsson is headed for Grand Rapids as early as Saturday to play an AHL game against the Milwaukee Admirals at Van Andel Arena.
“I imagine that’s what he’s doing. He ain’t playing here. I know that,” Babcock said. “You’ve got to get your game before you go here, so when he’s cleared and they decide, then he’s got to go there and he’s got to play some games and get ready to play. We need points.”
ISLANDER INVASION: The Red Wings and Islanders are tied with Montreal for second in the East, one points behind conference-leading Tampa Bay (66 points).
Saturday’s matinee will be the second straight game against a top conference opponent for the Red Wings, who lost to the Lightning, 5-1, on Thursday.
The Islanders are enjoying an incredible season. They’ve also won five straight against the Wings, including a 2-1 win at JLA on Dec. 19. New York is 8-1-1 against the Red Wings since 2005-06 and haven't lost in Detroit since the 2002-03 campaign.
“I thought they were great when we played them,” Babcock said. “They’ve got a real good team. It should be fun. We all know that, too in here. We understand what we’ve got.”
The Red Wings have won five straight on home ice, going back to Dec. 23.