The Recent Jimmy Howard
Post his groin injury, Jimmy Howard has an abysmal 5-5-2 record while surrendering 29 goals over the course of those 12 games (11 starts). Howard has only posted a SV% of .900 or higher in five of those games. That’s subpar.
When backup goaltender Jonas Gustavsson was still recovering from a separated shoulder suffered in November and Jimmy Howard tore his groin in January, the Red Wings called up third-string and Grand Rapids Griffins starter, Petr Mrazek.
In 18 starts this season, Mrazek has delivered 13 wins, one shutout, a .909 SV% and 2.55 GAA. While his SV% and GAA aren’t the greatest, they’re not bad for a 23-year-old after only 31 NHL appearances.
Petr Mrazek 2.0
Shortly after Gustavsson returned from injury, Mrazek was voted as the AHL Player of the Week for posting three wins, two shutouts, a .976 SV% and a 0.67 GAA in three road starts.
The injury-prone Gustavsson found his way back to civilian clothes after being removed from the Wings’ last tilt against the Boston Bruins on March 8th. Gustavsson was experiencing concussion-like symptoms after being ran into by Boston forward Milan Lucic, who was penalized on the play. Lucic has a history for “bumping” into goalies.
Mrazek was recalled as the backup to Howard for the Wing’s last three games, where they have gone 1-2, allowing 12 goals.
The Wings (85 points) have been losing ground to division rivals, the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning (both with 91 points). Meanwhile, the surging Bruins (82 points) have five wins in a row and sit just three points back for the third spot in the Atlantic Division.
The Wings have one game in hand on the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins and two games in hand on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In a playoff race, it’s never a bad idea to role with your number one goalie, especially when your backup has very limited NHL experience and even less experience in playoff-like hockey.
But Howard gave up seven goals Saturday afternoon against the Philadelphia Flyers, who sunk the Wings lost 7-2.
Petr Mrazek deserves another chance to carry the Red Wings back to the Land of W’s, because the Wings are desperate for W’s with just 15 regular season games remaining.
Babcock said Mrazek will start tomorrow in Pittsburgh. Said today's loss had nothing to do with Howard. Was team issue.
— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) March 14, 2015
While Babcock said the loss and nothing to do with Howard, that doesn’t mean the recent other losses aren’t on him. Mrazek deserves the next few starts. Even if tomorrow’s 12:30PM matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins is a tough outing for him (Mrazek gave up four in two periods against the Pens on February 11th- his most recent NHL action), Petr should be given the next game as well.
At minimum, Mrazek deserves a one-game buffer for adjusting to life as an NHL goaltender again.