Thursday, February 7, 2013

Player profile: Rookie goalie Petr Mrazek

On Thursday night, Detroit Red Wings rookie goalie Petr Mrazek will make his NHL debut in St. Louis.

The 20-year-old native of Czech Republic will be trying to help the Red Wings snap a two-game losing streak. He'll have to do it in hostile territory against a Blues team with tons of speed and a bone to pick -- a 5-3 loss to the Wings on Friday in Detroit.

Closer look at Mrazek

Mrazek is a winner. He probably wouldn't be in this position if he didn't have a solid record between the pipes.

Upon closer look, the 20-year-old has more experience in the crease than one might expect. He already has appeared in 25 games for the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins, earning 16 wins and just 7 losses. With the Griffins, Mrazek has posted a 2.26 goals against average and .916 save percentage. In fact, he has never posted lower than a .905 save percentage since 2009-10 when he debuted in the OHL with the Ottawa 67s.

During a three-season span with Ottawa, Mrazek earned 74 wins. He also appeared in 29 OHL playoff games. 

There is reason to be excited for a 6-foot-1, 187 pound kid. This may be the only time Wings fans see him in the crease this season, but depending on his performance, he could be the next backup and potential starter for a future Wings team.

Mrazek gets his chance

Jimmy Howard will not be able to play all 48 games, as coach Mike Babcock stated clearly this week. The Wings cannot seem to find any consistency in the backup position. Jonas Gustavsson was supposed to represent just that -- a fallback for Howard. Yet, his injury-riddled career continues.

Joey MacDonald may have run out of time for such a spot on Detroit, or even on another team -- I.e: Toronto Maple Leafs.

Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce obviously are being overlooked, for whatever reason.

This is Mrazek's moment to shine. 

Is that too much pressure for this kid? Maybe. But think about this: The Ottawa 67s are a proud OHL team with rich history. It's no walk in the park playing CHL hockey in a high-profile town such as Ottawa. Mrazek did it. He moved far from home and seemed to handle the pressure well. 

He has everything going for him. All he needs is a chance. He's got it now. 

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