On Thursday morning, the Detroit Red Wings officially called up goaltender Petr Mrazek from the Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) due to a shoulder injury that will keep regular backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson out for quite a few weeks. Mrazek has been the team’s 3rd goalie for a few years now, and has shown in past seasons that he can be a reliable option in the event that Howard or Gustavsson are unavailable. But the question this season will be which version of Petr Mrazek will we see in the NHL?
The Grand Rapids Griffins are off to a miserable start to their season. The Griffins are 3-4-1 and sit last in the Midwest Division and 12th in the Western Conference. A part of the reason why the Griffins are struggling is because their usual #1 netminder, Mrazek, has not been very good. In 4 games played this season, Mrazek is 1-2-0 with a 3.80 goals against average and a save percentage of .854. He’s allowed 13 goals on the year, and has watched from the bench more than he’s played. Thomas McCollum (1.99 GAA, .920 SV %) has been a better option for Jeff Blashil and his staff.
Now, I’m not blaming the Griffins poor start solely on Mrazek. It’s a team game and right now Grand Rapids isn’t playing well. The point I’m making is this: Players are usually sent down to the AHL to work on their game. In Mrazek’s case, he’ll have to fix whatever problems he has at the NHL level, backing up Jimmy Howard. The good news for Detroit is that they don’t have any back-to-back games until the 1st weekend of December, exactly 1 month. Of course Howard isn’t going to play in every game between now and then, so Mrazek will definitely see game time at some point. The question will be, are we getting the Mrazek who had 2 shutouts and a 1.74 GAA in 9 NHL games last year? Or will we see the Mrazek with a .854 save percentage in the minors? Only time will tell.