Final Thoughts on Petr Mrazek

Much like my thoughts on Andreas Athanasiou‘s mindset during his holdout last fall, I have a theory on Petr Mrazek‘s tumultuous tenure with the Red Wings.  A lot of it is conjecture, so take it with a grain of salt, but I don’t think I’m far off.

Mrazek was known as a cocky goalie from the start.  His celebrations while playing for the Czech Republic in the 2012 World Junior Championship introduced him to the world.  His “attitude problems” through the 2016-17 season can be attributed to it.  His comments upon being traded reflect it.

“The pressure for both of us was pretty high,” he said. “You have to show up every night if you want to play the next game. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s a really good thing when we can battle between goalies and do the best that we can. Sometimes when they say, ‘you’re the guy who’s gonna play for a while,’ I think it’s better.”

Specifically that last line.  I read that as Mrazek being frustrated that he was never made “the guy” in Detroit.  Some might say he never earned it, given his regression last season, but I think the slump was caused by feeling threatened by the presence of Jimmy Howard.

We don’t know what went down in meetings between Mrazek and Ken Holland.  We don’t know the reasons behind decisions made by Mike Babcock and Jeff Blashill.  But what if it went something like this…

In 2012, Mrazek is coming off being named the best goaltender at the World Juniors.  He wraps up his OHL career and goes pro in the fall.  The Red Wings assign him to the ECHL to start the season but he quickly replaces future doctor Jordan Pearce in the AHL as the backup for the Grand Rapids Griffins, then supplants Tom McCollum as the starter.  He even gets in a couple games in Detroit, going 1-1 with a respectable .922 save percentage and 2.02 GAA.  By spring, he’s leading the Griffins to their first-ever Calder Cup Championship.

For 2013-14 Mrazek is back with the Griffins, with Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson manning the crease in Detroit.  In 32 games he drops his GAA to 2.10 and his save percentage gets up to .924.  He gets into nine games in Detroit, putting together a 1.74 GAA and a .927 save percentage.

Come summer of 2014, Mrazek has put together stellar numbers through the first two years of his pro career and Gustavsson’s contract is up.  There is no reason for him to not think that he’s earned the backup role in Detroit.  Yet the Red Wings re-sign Gustavsson after a season where he had a 2.63 GAA and a .907 save percentage.  With one year left on his existing deal, Mrazek signs a one-year contract extension – a one-way  contract to ensure he’s in Detroit for 2015-16 – but starts 2014-15 in Grand Rapids.

Injuries open the door for Mrazek, who steps in and plays 29 games.  His 2.38 GAA and 9.18 save percentage are better than both Howard and Gustavsson.  He starts all seven games of Detroit’s playoff series with the Tampa Bay Lightning and, though the Red Wings drop the series, Mrazek  improves on his regular season stats, going 2.11 and .925.

Despite his playoff starts, Mrazek is the backup when the Red Wings start the 2015-16 season.  He ends up starting 49 games, though, with a 2.33 GAA and a .921 save percentage, better than Howard’s 2.80 and .906.

Come Game One of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs – with the Red Wings facing the Lightning again – Howard gets the start.  In the first two games of the series, Howard puts up a .891 save percentage and a 3.59 GAA as the Red Wings go down, 2-0.  Mrazek takes over for Game Three but Detroit falls in five games.  Mrazek’s GAA is 1.36 and his save percentage is .945.

Mrazek’s contract extension from 2014 is up and on July 27, 2016, he agrees to something of a bridge deal, two years at $4 million each.  It’s less than Howard’s salary and a shorter deal but he’s being paid like a starter.  The rumor is that Howard will be dealt.  By all appearances, the Red Wings are now Mrazek’s team.

But Howard isn’t dealt.  Mrazek gets the start to open the season in Tampa and at the final home opener at Joe Louis Arena.  He gets 14 starts in the first two months, being pulled once.  Howard started 11 games, also being pulled once.  It’s clear it’s a 1A-1B situation.

It’s at this point that the wheels come off for Mrazek.  Even with Howard hurt for much of the season, Mrazek puts up the worst numbers of his career, with a 3.04 GAA and a .901 save percentage.  Both are better than the 3.46 and .887 of Jared Coreau, who “steals” some of Mrazek’s starts, including the outdoor Centennial Classic in Toronto.  Rumors abound about Mrazek’s attitude and it’s even suggested that Coreau is the true heir-apparent to the Detroit crease.

Six months later, Mrazek is left unprotected in the expansion draft, going unclaimed.

He comes into the 2017-18 season the clear backup.  It’s expected the Red Wings won’t even give him a qualifying offer when his contract is up (which has since been confirmed).  His .910 save percentage and 2.89 GAA nearly match Howard’s numbers but Mrazek ends up dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers.

If I were in Mrazek’s skates, I would have a bad attitude, too, and it would certainly impact my play.  I’m not saying it’s okay for that, just that I can understand it.

You rise up from the ECHL to the AHL to the NHL in your first season and carry your team to a Calder Cup Championship.  The next year your stats are even better, but a worse goalie is re-signed to play in front of you.  You take over the starting role anyway and make the most of it, putting up great numbers in a seven-game playoff series.

By next fall, you lose the starting role anyway.  You fight your way back to become the playoff starter again, you get a starter’s contract, and then again you’re the backup on opening night and the guy who they said they’d trade is still there taking up space in your crease.

It’s in your head, you falter, and suddenly the third-string goalie who hasn’t done anything is stealing your starts.  The spiral continues.  You pull yourself together over the summer.  After a rough start, you’re putting up similar numbers to your partner in the crease.  But it’s too late, you’re out.

Again, I’m not saying that Mrazek didn’t slump and didn’t have an attitude.  I’m saying that I can see why he would have one and why it would impact his play.  And, with that perspective in mind, it’s also why I think the Red Wings should have tried harder to deal Jimmy Howard, rather than giving up on Mrazek.

Datsyuk Scores 300th as Red Wings Fall to Bruins in OT

Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk scored his 300th career goal but it wasn’t enough for the Red Wings, who allowed late goals to the Boston Bruins to drop a 3-2 decision in overtime.

With 1:44 left in regulation, Boston’s Colin Miller tied the game at 2-2. After a long shift of Detroit control in the Boston zone, the Bruins finally got the puck into the end and were able to change faster than the Red Wings. Miller jumped on the ice and into the Detroit zone, taking a pass from Loui Eriksson and blasting a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle past Wings goalie Petr Mrazek.

Miller would figure into the overtime game-winner as well, as his initial shot from nearly the same spot as the tying goal was tipped by Frank Vatrano in the crease and past Mrazek for the 3-2 win.

It was Vatrano’s second goal of the night, as he had opened the game’s scoring 7:11 into the first, slapping a shot from the high slot through traffic to make it 1-0.

Datsyuk’s milestone marker tied things up at 2:26 of the second. In the left circle, Datsyuk sent a saucer pass to himself over the stick of defender Torey Krug, then snapped a shot from the slot past Bruins goalie – and former Red Wing – Jonas Gustavsson.

With 5:07 left in the middle frame Tomas Tatar gave the Red Wings a 2-1 lead. Tatar jumped off the bench on a line change and picked up the loose puck, driving into the slot to rip a shot past Gustavsson.

Gustavsson finished the night with 32 saves on 34 shots while Mrazek stopped 19 of the 22 chances he faced.

Neither team scored a power play goal, with each team getting three tries with the extra attacker.

The Red Wings are back in action on Friday when they host the Edmonton Oilers.


The game was celebrated as Detroit’s 200th consecutive sellout… Former Red Wing Landon Ferraro, claimed by the Bruins off waivers on Sunday, assisted on Boston’s first goal of the game. It was his second assist in as many games for the Bruins after having none in his Detroit career.

Red Wings Sign Jurco to Two-Year Deal

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of forward Tomas Jurco to a two-year deal.

As per club policy, no other terms were announced. The annual cap hit will reportedly be $900,000.

Jurco, 22, had been a restricted free agent. Originally drafted by Detroit in the second round (35th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 2014-15 was his first full season with the Red Wings. In 63 games, he scored three goals and added 15 assists for 18 points.

In 99 career NHL games, Jurco has 11 goals and 22 assists for 33 points. In 106 game with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins, he has 27 goals and 33 assists for 60 points.

With Jurco signed, all of the Red Wings restricted free agents will be returning to the team. Unrestricted free agents Erik Cole, Marek Zidlicky, and Jonas Gustavsson will not return to the team. Daniel Cleary‘s future has yet to be determined.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Lightning – Game 1

The Red Wings open up their their first-round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight and neither team will be entirely healthy.

Detroit is missing forward Justin Abdelkader, still nursing a sore hand, while Tampa Bay defenseman Jason Garrison is out. The Red Wings are also without forwards Erik Cole and Johan Franzen, who are both out for the season.

Rookie goalie Petr Mrazek gets the nod for the Red Wings. Tampa starter Ben Bishop will also be making his first career playoff appearance, as he was injured for their playoff run last season.

Mrazek is joined by Landon Ferraro and Alexey Marchenko in making his first NHL playoff appearance. Daniel Cleary and Teemu Pulkkinen are the healthy scratches up front, Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith are out on the blueline, and Jonas Gustavsson is the third goalie.

SSOTD: The Red Wings haven’t won in Tampa since February 17, 2011.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD.

Red Wings Rally for Win over Hurricanes

Two third-period goals lifted the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

Gustav Nyquist and Pavel Datsyuk scored to turn a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead and goalie Jimmy Howard stopped all 16 shots he faced in the final frame.

Nyquist’s shot from the top of the left faceoff circle slipped through traffic and between the pads of Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin just 1:56 into the third, tying things up.

With 8:35 left, Henrik Zetterberg drove down the left wing and carried the puck behind the net before sending a pass out to Datsyuk in the slot. Datsyuk kicked the puck onto his stick and snapped a shot past Khudobin while falling down, setting the score at 3-2.

Zetterberg had opened the game’s scoring 1:29 into the second period with a power play goal. Stephen Weiss grabbed a loose puck on the left wing boards and sent it to Zetterberg on the right side. All alone, he drove to the net and lifted a backhander past Khudobin.

The Hurricanes evened things up with 5:52 left in the middle period as Nathan Gerbe snapped a rebound chance past Howard after a Red Wings giveaway in their own end.

Chris Terry made it 2-1 for Carolina, picking up a rebound as the late-man on a rush by the Hurricanes.

Howard finished the night with 30 saves on 32 shots while Khudobin stopped 22 of 25 chances.

Each team had one power play on the night, with Detroit scoring on theirs.

The win put the Red Wings two points away from clinching a playoff spot, which they can do with a win in Montreal on Thursday.


Detroit was without forwards Justin Abdelkader, Erik Cole, and Tomas Jurco… Forward Daniel Cleary and defenseman Jakub Kindl were healthy scratches… Goalie Jonas Gustavsson remained injured… Forward Landon Ferraro made his season debut.

Howard Stops Six in Shootout as Red Wings Beat Wild

Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard stopped six shooters in an eight-round shootout on Saturday night, leading the Red Wings to a 3-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.

It was just Howard’s second shootout win of the season. He had made eleven saves in nine previous shootouts, going 1-8.

Howard stopped Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle to open the tiebreaker before Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek scored. He then held off Nino Niederreiter, Chris Stewart, Mikael Granlund, and Justin Fontaine.

Darren Helm scored in the eighth round, beating Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk on a shot that had to be reviewed to confirm that it crossed the goal line. Gustav Nyquist scored in the second round while Riley Sheahan kept the Red Wings alive in the fourth. Dubnyk stopped Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Tatar, Henrik Zetterberg, Stephen Weiss, and Niklas Kronwall.

Parise had opened the game’s scoring with 5:53 left in the first period, tipping a Granlund pass to the front of the net past Howard after a Detroit turnover at their own blue line.

The Red Wings responded just 1:52 later when Sheahan – perched on the edge of Dubnyk’s crease – knocked home the rebound of a Weiss chance.

Nyquist’s low-angle shot over Dubnyk’s shoulder with 2:47 remaining in the second gave the Red Wings their only lead of the night on their first power play, making it 2-1.

Parise replied with a Minnesota power play goal, tipping a Pominville chance past Howard at 6:33 of the third period.

The Wild finished the night one-for-six on the power play while the Red Wings went one-for-two.

Howard made 22 saves on 24 shots against. Dubnyk stopped twenty of the 22 shots he faced.

The Red Wings are back at it on Sunday as they host the Washington Capitals.


Detroit was without forwards Erik Cole and Tomas Jurco. Daniel Cleary was a healthy scratch and Johan Franzen remains on injured reserve… Jakub Kindl was a healthy scratch on defense while Jonas Gustavsson remained out in goal.

Pregame: Red Wings @ Wild – 4/4

Hey, we’re back. That hiatus DH.N has been on? We’re gonna pretend that’s over and see if we can’t get back to talking about some hockey over here, as the Red Wings visit the Minnesota Wild tonight.

Also back? Jimmy Howard and Pavel Datsyuk. Howard gets the start in goal after Petr Mrazek had gotten the nod for a few games. Datsyuk returns from a troublesome ankle to center Darren Helm and Tomas Tatar.

Daniel Cleary will be the healthy scratch up front with Erik Cole and Tomas Jurco still injured (and Johan Franzen on IR with no return in sight). Jakub Kindl is the healthy scratch on defense. Mrazek will back up Howard with Jonas Gustavsson (remember him?) still shelved.

The Wild are playoff-bound, riding the improbably-hot netminding of Devan Dubnyk. The Red Wings chased Dubnyk when the two teams met on January 20 but still needed a shootout to get the win after the Wild scored three third-period goals to force overtime. Three third-period goals against… This sounds familiar…

Stupid stat of the day: The Red Wings are 89-83-20 all-time in the regular season in April.

Game time is 7:00 PM on FSD+.

Pregame: Canadiens @ Red Wings – 2/16

Coming off a 5-4 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday the Red Wings host the Montreal Canadiens tonight. The game is Detroit’s second and final home game of the month of February.

Jimmy Howard will get the start for Detroit, his second since returning from injury. Petr Mrazek will dress as backup while Jonas Gustavsson is a healthy scratch.

The Canadiens will be without Sergei Gonchar, injured on a hit by Toronto’s David Clarkson.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD.

Red Wings’ Mrazek Blanks Avs in 3-0 Win

Detroit netminder Petr Mrazek stopped all 28 shots he faced on Thursday night for his first shutout of the season as the Red Wings earned a 3-0 win over the host Colorado Avalanche.

The Avalanche thought they had cracked Mrazek just six minutes into the first period but an apparent goal by Gabriel Landeskog was disallowed due to a hand pass by Nick Holden.

Justin Abdelkader scored the first goal to count with 6:35 left in the second period. Abdelkader got the puck in front of the net and was stopped by Semyon Varlamov but dug out his own rebound and flipped it past the Colorado netminder for a power play goal and a 1-0 lead.

There would be no further scoring until the closing minutes. With Varlamov on the bench for an extra attacker early, both Darren Helm and Luke Glendening scored into the empty net.

Varlamov finished the night with 26 saves on 27 shots.

Detroit went one-for-three on the power play while the Avalanche were scoreless on three tries with the man-advantage.

The Red Wings conclude their short road trip on Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes.


Detroit goalie Jonas Gustavsson returned from his rehabilitation stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins, replacing Tom McCollum in the lineup… Defenseman Xavier Ouellet was called up from the Griffins for the trip but did not play… Daniel Cleary and Jakub Kindl were the other healthy scratches.

Red Wings Rebound with 4-1 Win over Islanders

Two days after an embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning ended their six-game winning streak, the Detroit Red Wings bounced back with a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders.

The win kept the Red Wings in a tie for second place in the Atlantic Division with the Montreal Canadiens, one point back of the division-leading Lightning.

Tomas Tatar opened the game’s scoring for Detroit. At 5:29 of the first period, Tatar snapped a shot from near the right faceoff dot through traffic and into the far top corner, beating goalie Chad Johnson just 12 seconds into a power play.

Brendan Smith made it 2-0 with 47 seconds left in the period, wiring a one-timer into the same corner of the net from five feet further out.

The Islanders cut Detroit’s lead in half at 5:24 of the second. On a power play, Lubomir Visnovsky was left all alone in the high slot to take a feed from Frans Nielsen and tee up a shot past netminder Petr Mrazek.

Jonathan Ericsson restored the two-goal lead at 9:21 just as a Detroit power play expired. Ericsson’s shot from the left point deflected off Thomas Hickey, then bounced off the post and in for a 3-1 lead.

With 6:52 left in the middle frame, Gustav Nyquist knocked the rebound of a Henrik Zetterberg one-timer past Johnson to round out the game’s scoring with a power play goal.

Johnson finished the night with 15 saves on 19 shots while Mrazek stopped 22 of 23 attempts.

Detroit scored on two of their four power plays. The Islanders went one-for-four with the man-advantage.

The Red Wings are now off until Thursday when they visit the Colorado Avalanche.


Prior to the game, defenseman Brian Lashoff cleared waivers and was assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins. Additionally, goalie Jonas Gustavsson was sent to the Griffins on a conditioning stint… Defenseman Alexey Marchenko made his season debut, replacing Xavier Ouellet in the lineup. Ouellet was returned to the Griffins on Friday… Daniel Cleary, Jakub Kindl, and Gustavsson were the healthy scratches… Goalie Jimmy Howard and forward Johan Franzen remain on injured reserve.