Petr Mrazek has been playing much more like his all-star form leading the Detroit Red Wings to all five points in their last three games. He received help from his teammates in a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders, namely Danny DeKeyser who played pinball to score the winner with less than 30 seconds remaining.
Mrazek then followed up that victory with his best game in a calendar year as he shut out the Nashville Predators. He recorded 42 saves in his first shut out since February 8th, 2015. Although in a loss, Mrazek played well against Columbus after allowing two first period goals to turn in another solid outing. So, is Mrazek rebounding, or providing false hope for fans?
Petr Mrazek Could Be on the Bounce Back
Early goals hurting Mrazek’s confidence
The Detroit Red Wings have had an issue all season when it comes to allowing the first goal of the game. They have only scored first in 21 of 52 games so far this season. This early hole they put themselves in seems to really affect their confidence as they have only won 12 of the 31 games in which they gave up the first goal. Even more worrying is that only seven of the twelve wins have come in regulation.
In Mrazek’s three wins since December 17th, the Red Wings have only scored first in one game, the recent shutout against Nashville. The other two games needed a combined ten Detroit goals to win, and both wins were by only a single goal. When Mrazek is able to make early saves and get through the first period, a period in which Detroit has been outscored 51-40, he is usually able to get in a groove and be sharp from then on.
Mrazek letting in too many easy goals
The defense for the Detroit Red Wings has been much maligned this season, and many see it as the crucial factor for their poor play. While it is an issue, the even bigger issue may be the easy goals let in by the goaltenders. Mrazek ranks in the bottom half of the league in low-danger save percentage at 97.14% and has allowed seven low-danger goals (both stats are for even-strength situations) which is middle of the pack. But many goalies in front of him have higher save percentages in these situation.
If Mrazek is able to really focus and cut these types of goals down, and gets help from his defense, the Red Wings should be able to climb closer to a playoff spot. They also need to improve the power play, but that is a dead horse that cannot be beat anymore.
Detroit also need more consistent goal scoring. They did score four goals against the Islanders, but needed every one to win. In Mrazek’s stellar shutout, they only managed to score one goal. They need to be able to have offensive explosion in games where they get solid goaltending, not simply one or the other. If Mrazek can cut down on easy goals, and get help from both his offense and defense, he could certainly be rebounding.