Ever since Jonas Gustavsson sustained a shoulder injury on the game-winning overtime goal against the New York Rangers on Nov. 5, Jimmy Howard has started every game for the Detroit Red Wings and is scheduled to make his fifth consecutive start during Tuesday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t mind Howard getting most of the starts, but with Petr Mrazek being called up, why not give the Czech some more experience?
Gustavsson is scheduled to be out for two months, and Mrazek has more than proven himself in his limited time in the NHL. It seems silly to call him up only to keep him backing up Howard.
The Red Wings are playing Winnipeg on Thursday and Toronto on Saturday. I’d like to see Mrazek start both of those games, but hopefully, he’ll start at least one of those games.
Holland has said he would never call up a prospect like Xavier Ouellet, Teemu Pulkkinen or Ryan Sproul only to make them healthy scratches If he’s going to call them up, they will be playing. Why should Mrazek be any different?
Plus, it’s imperative Howard doesn’t get burned out early in the season. He’s had a great start to the 2014-15 season, and he will be called upon to get the Red Wings back into the playoffs for the 24th straight season.
Mrazek is the future of the Red Wings; he has nothing left to prove at the AHL level. He won a Calder Cup with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2013 and has sported a GAA of 2.10 or less in the past two seasons with the Griffins and a save percentage of .916 or higher in each of those seasons.
Howard has put a lot of pressure on himself to perform well and help the Red Wings succeed, but he needs a break every now and then. Let Mrazek start some games and gain valuable experience; the competitor in Howard won’t like it now, but he’ll be grateful come April when the Red Wings may be fighting for a playoff spot.
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Tom Mitsos is a Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins staff writer for The Hockey Writers. You can follow him on Twitter @tom_mitsos.