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NHL Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Red Wings: Jimmy Howard Injury Creates Chance For Petr Mrazek

Red Wings Howard Mrazek

Tim Fuller – USA TODAY Sports

The news that goaltender Jimmy Howard will miss up to a month with a knee injury may not seem like a big setback for a team that has struggled when he has been in net this season, but it will still make things interesting for the Detroit Red Wings for a few weeks. Backup Jonas Gustavsson has performed well this season and will see the bulk of the starts while Howard is out, but rookie Petr Mrazek should get a chance to start a few games as well. Gustavsson is 8-1-2 with a stellar 1.93 goals-against average, while Mrazek recorded a shutout in his only start for the Red Wings this season and was on a seven-game winning streak with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL when he was recalled.

The Red Wings have lost four of their last five games, with two of those losses coming in shootouts. A Wednesday night shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning was not Gustavsson’s fault, as he allowed only one goal through regulation and turned aside five Lightning shooter in the tiebreaker before Martin St. Louis put one past him. The Red Wings’ lack of success in the shootout continues to be one of their biggest problems, as they have dropped 11 straight and went 0-for-6 on Wednesday. Mrazek has been fairly successful in the shootout in the AHL, and he may get the chance to help the Red Wings turn things around if it gets that far.

In the season after he led the Griffins to a Calder Cup championship with four playoff shutouts and a 2.31 postseason goals-against average, Mrazek has a 10-2-1 record with a 2.09 goals-against and .927 save percentage. The Red Wings face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL featured columnist for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your circles on Google Plus.