COMMENTARY | On Thursday, Feb. 9, Petr Mrazek shined in his first NHL start for the Detroit Red Wings as he collected a 5-1 win.
The Czech has been tearing it up this season in the AHL for the Grand Rapids Griffins. He won his first six starts in November and has a 17-6-1 record, 2.26 GAA and a .916 save percentage.
He was just as impressive against the Blues on Thursday. He made 26 saves against a team with the fifth-most goals scored per game.
I can't even fault him for the one goal he did allow. The puck squirted free from the slot area onto the stick of a wide-open Alex Pietrangelo. The defenseman buried it as Mrazek attempted a desperation save.
Couple Mrazek's performance with Jimmy Howard's mediocre play thus far and Mrazek seems like a lock for the starting goalie job, right?
Don't get me wrong, I think Mrazek is the future for the Detroit Red Wings organization, but it's just one game. Goalies are not made in one game.
He didn't even face a quality scoring chance until late in the first period when he stoned Andy McDonald on a backhand after Brian Lashoff turned over the puck.
In fact, I would give more credit to the Red Wings' defense than to Mrazek. He did have some very nice saves that could have easily made the game a lot closer, but the defense also did a good job of limiting the number of shots he faced.
Don't be a prisoner of the moment. Any goalie can have one good game and look like an All-Star, especially if he has great defense in front of him.
Heck, Columbus' Steve Mason had an incredible rookie season in 2008-09. He led the league in shutouts with 10 and won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's best rookie. But when was the last time anybody was talking about how good Steve Mason was?
Mrazek looked good in his first NHL game -- on the road against a very good St. Louis Blues team nonetheless -- but this is Jimmy Howard's team. With that being said, there is no better way to get a goalie out of a slump than to have the possibility of your starting job taken away from you.
Mrazek's quality start will motivate Howard to keep the starting job. No one has challenged Howard for the starting job this year.
Gustavsson has been hurt for the majority of the season thus far and isn't sure when he will return to game action.
Joey MacDonald was solid in relief for Howard last year, but still is fighting back problems that have kept him out of the lineup this year.
Tom McCollum is no where near ready for the NHL. I've watched him a few times in Grand Rapids and let's just say if you look up "sieve" in the dictionary, you might find a picture of Tom McCollum.
I'm excited for the Red Wings to have two quality goaltenders at their disposal. If one of them falters, I can be confident knowing the other will be able to step up and make the big saves needed to keep his team in the game.
Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who has followed the Red Wings and the NHL since the 1993-94 season. He is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter @tom_mitsos.
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