Petr Mrazek to start for Red Wings vs. Islanders; defense pairings remain the same

Petr Mrazek will get his first start since the All-Star break as the Detroit Red Wings host the New York Islanders on Friday night. Jared Coreau started in Detroit's 4-3 loss to New Jersey on Tuesday night.

Mrazek has struggled this season and gave up four goals in his last start, but overall he has looked better since the new year. The Red Wings desperately need a strong performance from Mrazek, as their chances of making the playoffs are diminishing by the day.

Even though he shook up the power play lines, Jeff Blashill is not changing the defensive pairings for Friday's game.

In another questionable move, the team decided to waive Alexey Marchenko to make room for Brendan Smith, even though Jonathan Ericsson should have been the obvious first choice in the eyes of many.

Meanwhile, Ryan Sproul will be a healthy scratch for the tenth straight game. In his last appearance against Chicago, he saw just 7:58 of ice time and was a -2. Sproul may be a liability on defense (so is Ericsson), but he is an offensive-minded defenseman who can help the Red Wings' brutal power play (half of his points are on the power play).

Sproul's ceiling is much higher than that of Ericsson's. At this point in the season, with the Red Wings near the bottom of the league, it makes more sense to play a younger guy like Sproul. Smith, who returns from injury this weekend, showed chemistry with Sproul when the two were paired together. Youngsters Xavier Ouellet and Nick Jensen have only improved with experience this season on the blue line. If Sproul saw more game action, he would have a much better opportunity to do the same.


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