Look out Jimmy Howard, there’s a new goaltender in Hockeytown. And no, his name isn’t Jonas Gustavsson.
On Thursday night, Petr Mrázek made his first start as a Red Wing, and backstopped his team to a 5 – 1 win against the St. Louis Blues. Mrázek stopped 26 shots en route to his first career NHL victory, and he looked more than comfortable doing so. He was poised between the pipes, looking far more experienced than his 21 years would suggest. The only goal Mrázek allowed was on a Blues power play, but otherwise he was perfect, posting a .963 save percentage against a very capable St. Louis offense.
But Mrázek wasn’t the only young Red Wing to make an impact in the game. Detroit got solid contributions from their third and fourth lines, as Cory Emmerton, Danny Cleary, and Jakub Kindl each netted their first of the season. Valtteri Filppula and Damien Brunner accounted for the other two Red Wings goals, and Alex Pietrangelo scored the lone St. Louis tally.
Until Thursday, Detroit’s bottom six forwards hadn’t scored a goal between them, but they broke out in a big way against St. Louis. Emmerton in particular had a solid game for Detroit: assisting on Kindl’s goal, showing some soft hands in front of the net on his own tally, and finishing the game plus-two. He was rewarded with the first star of the game, although the argument could have been made for Mrázek as well.
With the win the Wings move to 5-4-1 on the season, and have now won their last two games against the Blues after getting embarrassed 6 – 0 by St. Louis in the 2013 season opener. Detroit will hope to build on the momentum of this big win when they take on Edmonton on Saturday.
The St. Louis Blues on the other hand have now lost three straight games, and are in a tailspin after starting the season 6-1. Starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak is still on the Injured Reserve, and Brian Elliot has been struggling of late, posting a save percentage of only .813 in the last three Blues losses.
One thing is for certain in Detroit: if Mrázek continues to play as well as he did on Thursday, he will make it hard for Red Wings coaches to hand the reins back to Jimmy Howard.
About the Author
Written by Kyle Myers
Journalism student at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. Sports fanatic, aspiring sports journalist.