The Detroit Red Wings are down 2-0 heading into the third game of their best-of-seven playoff series against the Tampa Bay Lightning this weekend – so they’re giving the nod to goaltender Petr Mrazek in hopes he’ll spark a win against their Atlantic Division rivals.
The Red Wings confirmed on Sunday morning that Mrazek, who has sat backup to veteran Jimmy Howard in games one and two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals this past week, will stand in net for game three. He’ll relieve a struggling Howard, who allowed four goals on 30 shots in a 5-2 loss to the Lightning on Friday, when the Red Wings take the ice this evening at 6:00 PM CST.
Statistically, this isn’t surprising; Mrazek finished the regular season with a .921 save percentage in all situations over 54 games, which is a leap from the .906 save percentage that Howard put up in 37 games of his own. The combined .912 that Howard has put up in the postseason so far hasn’t given the Red Wings an edge, so they’re moving to the younger netminder – who served as the starter for most of the season, anyway.
Drafted 141st overall by the Red Wings in 2010, Mrazek – a native of Ostrava, Czech Republic – is currently in his first full year with the NHL club after spending three years split between the AHL and NHL. The former starter for the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, Mrazek became yet another goaltender with ECHL experience to get playoff starts last year when he made seven appearances in net for the Red Wings, but this will be his first time standing in a playoff net since that seven-game series last year.