DETROIT – If the Red Wings have learned anything about their third-string goalie this season it’s that he has a keen aptitude to overcome misfortune.
Petr Mrazek, who was pulled from Sunday’s game after surrendering three goals in 13 ½ minutes to the Buffalo Sabres, returns to the crease tonight for the Red Wings against the Minnesota Wild.
“One of the good things about him is that he’s quick to forget about things,” center Riley Sheahan said. “It’s crucial for a goalie, he’s confident and we’re confident in him and that certainly helps a lot. You don’t see it much and it definitely works for him.”
Sunday’s game – eventually a 6-4 victory – was an anomaly for the 22-year-old goalie, whose expected to handle the brunt of the Wings’ goaltending duties while starter Jimmy Howard (groin) and backup Jonas Gustavsson (shoulder) continue to mend on injured reserve.
Luckily for Mrazek, he wasn’t saddled with a loss as the Red Wings – who for the second time this season – mounted a three-goal deficit to win. Detroit overcame a 4-1 deficit at New Jersey, and Mrazek claimed his second win of the season, on Nov. 28.
Mrazek has shown the ability to shake off early goals this season. Four times, he's allowed a goal in the first three minutes of a game, including Sunday. In the previous three contests he managed to refocus while leading Detroit to wins.
“We’re all comfortable with him and we know that he’s an amazing goaltender and I think he knows it to,” Sheahan said. “It’s just something that he can put behind him and it helps that we ended up winning that game against Buffalo. We’re definitely, extremely comfortably with him in net. We know he’s very skilled and it will be big for him. But at the same time it really isn’t anything to worry about.”
Mrazek enters tonight’s game at Joe Louis Arena with an 8-3-1 record, 2.33 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. The league recognizes GAA leaders who have played a minimum of 15 games. Mrazek has appeared in 13 games, but would rank No. 12 in goals against among the league leaders.
While his teammates have faith in Mrazek’s mental disposition to rebound from a poor start, his coach was apathetic.
“We’ll watch (and) find out,” coach Mike Babcock said. “The team was brutal, let’s be honest. He was part of it. No one was prepared to play. He never got an opportunity to play in the second and third when everyone else got an opportunity to bail themselves out, so he has an opportunity here today. That’s what the league is about, it’s an everyday league. Part of being a young guy is when you have success is you dwell on the success instead of getting ready for tomorrow. You have these lapses in back to back games with young guys, so here’s an opportunity to bounce back.”
CLICK HERE to see the Red Wings projected line combinations and defensive pairings against the Wild.
MORE THAN A TRICK:
Left Wing - DET
Goals: 14 | Assists: 27 | Pts: 41
Shots: 146 | +/-: 3
For the second time this season, Henrik Zetterberg
produced four points in a game as the Red Wings overcame a 3-0 deficit to post a 6-4 win in their last game, Sunday against the Sabres.
Zetterberg scored three goals in the third period to record his first hat trick since Feb. 1, 2013. It was his sixth hat trick of his career. The last Red Wings player to record a hat trick in one period was Johan Franzen, who managed the feat in the third period of a 7-5 win at Ottawa on Feb. 2, 2011. Franzen finished that game with five goals.
Zetterberg’s first four-point performance this season occurred on Oct. 17, 2014 when he recorded four assists in a 4-1 win over Toronto. The four points also brought his career point total to 761, passing Hall-of-Fame center Norm Ullman for sole possession of seventh on the franchise’s all-time points list.
BACK IN THE MIDDLE:
Center - DET
Goals: 1 | Assists: 4 | Pts: 5
Shots: 41 | +/-: 1
For the first time since the pre-season, Joakim Andersson
will center the Red Wings’ fourth line with wingers Stephen Weiss
and Teemu Pulkkinen
tonight against the Wild.
“I’ve been playing wing all year, but I’m used to playing center,” Andersson said. “I’ve been center my whole career. It should be fun.”
Andersson has appeared in 34 games as a winger this season, producing a goal and four assists with a plus-1 rating.
The 25-year-old said he learned of his new role – essentially swapping spots with Luke Glendening, who moves to right wing on Sheahan’s third line – this morning when he arrived for today’s morning skate. While there will be some challenges tonight, he’s certainly excited to return to a position that he’s much more accustom.
“As center you take draws obviously,” Andersson said. “As a wing you play down low with the defensemen in the D-zone. That’s the biggest difference. As a center you play down low as well so it shouldn’t be too hard for me.
“The way we play we try and have all three forwards doing everything right. The first guy (in the zone) will play down low, as a winger you might not have as much responsibility to be the third guy. We have to have all three guys doing everything.
“It’s going to fun. It’s going to be my first game this year playing center. It’s what I’ve been doing all my career.”
Goalie - DET
GAA: 2.30 | Sv%: .908
Gustavsson, who hasn’t played since suffering a separated shoulder in overtime against the New York Rangers on Nov. 5, believes he’ll be ready to return to the lineup shortly after the All-Star break.
“That’s what we’re all hoping for,” he said. “I still have some progress that needs to be done but the way it’s going, I feel if I just get those days healing at the same speed that it is now, it should be good somewhere after the break.”
Gustavsson and the team trainers and doctors will decide when the time is right for a return.
“I think we need to take that discussion together,” he said. “It’s up to me how I feel. If I feel I can go, then obviously I can go. If they feel I should wait, that’s something we talk about. We’re going to come to a decision together, but of course I listen to them.”ICYMI:
The Red Wings enter tonight's game against the Wild with 111 man games lost. That's 84 fewer games lost then this time last season when 18 different players spent time on injured reserve through the first 46 games.
So far this season, 11 players have missed games with injuries, including six who have missed fewer than eight games: Howard (seven), Justin Abdelkader (seven), Brendan Smith (five), Kyle Quincey (four) and Danny DeKeyser (two).