DETROIT – Petr Mrazek had an outstanding training camp and preseason, including a 27-save performance in a shut-out win against Toronto.
However, the Red Wings thought the 22-year-old would be best served with another season in the minors, where he could get the necessary workload to continue his development.
Understandably, Mrazek didn’t agree with the decision at the time, but he’s thrilled now to be back with the Red Wings.
“It was a little tough when you come there, it’s different hockey, you have to get used to the style, different guys, you have to get mentally strong there and battle,” Mrazek said. “I’m pretty happy to practice with these guys and get ready for some games here.”
The Red Wings recalled Mrazek on Thursday, the day after backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson dislocated his left shoulder in the waning seconds of Wednesday’s overtime loss to the New York Rangers.
Gustavsson is likely to be out for two months, and while surgery isn’t planned now, the veteran backup will be reevaluated in 4-6 weeks, general manager Ken Holland said.
In the past, Mrazek has been recalled for a game or two at a stretch. This time will be much longer, which he says should be beneficial for his growth.
“I think it’s going to help me being around here longer and for the future here,” he said.
Mrazek owns a 1-2-0 record with a 3.80 goals against average and .854 save percentage in four AHL games this season. Last season, he ranked second among AHL goaltenders with a 22-9-1 mark and 2.10 GAA in 32 games.
“The start down there, we didn’t play much, once a week,” Mrazek said. “It was very difficult to get into the game. I practiced hard and battled. We had some tough games. … I think things are good I just need to battle and I think everything will be good.”
In 11 NHL games over the past two seasons, Mrazek is 3-5-0 with a stellar 1.80 GAA and .926 save percentage.
“I think he’s a real good goalie. He’s really good with the puck,” coach Mike Babcock said. “He hasn’t had the kind of start he’s wanted in the American Hockey League. He’s going to get an opportunity to play in a game that Gus was going to play and you have to show you can win in the league.”
Without back-to-back games on the Red Wings’ schedule until next month, it’s likely that Jimmy Howard will start at least the next four games – all at home – against New Jersey (tonight), Tampa Bay (Sunday), Chicago (Nov. 14) and Montreal (Nov. 16).
That’s OK with Mrazek, who plans to be ready when called upon.
“I will practice hard here and get ready for every game whether if I’m playing or if I’m not playing,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be difficult. I’m just going to work hard here and be ready.”
NOT A JAGR FAN:
Center - DET
Goals: 0 | Assists: 2 | Pts: 2
Shots: 15 | +/-: -1
It’s about a 35-minute drive from his parents’ home to suburban Kladno, the hometown of Jaromir Jagr, Czech Republic national hero and the New Jersey Devils’ future first-ballot lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
But Andrej Nestrasil, who was born and raised in Prague, doesn’t count himself among the throngs of Czechs who idolize the five-time Art Ross Trophy winner.
“Actually, my favorite player growing up was Eric Lindros from Philly. That was the guy that I was watching a lot,” Nestrasil said. “I think it was more that my father was comparing me to him I guess because I was a really big kid. Jagr is a national hero because he’s in the news every day so we know what’s going on in his life, but he wasn’t my idol growing up.”
Even in his 21st NHL season, Jagr continues to electrify fans and players, alike. He leads the Devils with seven assists and is tied for the team lead with nine points in 13 games. But Nestrasil won’t permit himself to get caught star-gazing.
“I feel like the first couple of games that we played against (Sidney) Crosby and played against (Ryan) Getzlaf that was kinda of special,” Nestrasil said. “But as you get more and more games you really don’t look at that. I mean, every kid in Czech Republic growing up knows about Jagr and everybody wants to be like him. He has had an unbelievable career; he played 25 minutes last night, which is so impressive for a 42-year-old. So I guess it will be a little bit special, but as soon as I step out onto the ice it will go out of my head.”
Defense - DET
Goals: 2 | Assists: 6 | Pts: 8
Shots: 19 | +/-: -1
After a disappointing three-game road trip, the Red Wings are back at the friendly confines of Joe Louis Arena for the next four games, beginning tonight against the Devils.
“It’s always good to come home and play in front of the home fans,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “We know The Joe is a special place to play, so we’re excited to come back.”
Detroit is 4-1-1 on home ice with all but one game decided by one goal – a 5-2 win against the reigning Stanley Cup champions Los Angeles Kings last Friday.
The Red Wings are catching New Jersey on the second night of back-to-back games. The Devils lost 4-3 on Thursday at St. Louis.
The Red Wings are 8-2-1 in the past 11 games against the Devils.
“New Jersey is always a good defensive, structured team. At the same time they have some very talented guys up front, Jagr still knows how to play the game, so it’s going to be a good challenge,” Kronwall said. “We have to find a way to get our specialty teams going. Our PK isn’t working as good as it has been, so that’s something that we have to get back on track.”
Detroit’s penalty kill is ranked fourth in the league with a 40-for-45 success rate – that’s 88.9 percent.
Defense - DET
Goals: 1 | Assists: 2 | Pts: 3
Shots: 17 | +/-: 3
For just the second time in his career, Jakub Kindl
had a two-point effort that included him scoring a goal.
The second-period tally, the 10th of his six NHL seasons, snapped Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist’s personal shutout streak against the Wings at 211:08.
“We think he’s good offensively, he passes the puck out, he can see it,” said Babcock of the Wings’ 27-year-old defenseman. “His biggest thing is going back, getting it, moving it and playing well without it. The reality of this game is if you struggle defensively the coach doesn’t tend to play you. So if you’re good defensively you have more time to be good offensively.”
Kindl assisted on Tomas Tatar’s game-tying goal with 7.7 seconds left in regulation.