Mrazek has earned the right to be in the net every night for Red Wings

Petr Mrazek has been more effective than veteran Jimmy Howard in the net for the Red Wings so far in the 2015-16 season.

Petr Mrazek has been more effective than veteran Jimmy Howard in the net for the Red Wings so far in the 2015-16 season.

Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek: two capable starting netminders for the Detroit Red Wings.

Well, at least that’s what first-year Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill thought about his goaltending situation to start the season.

Subsequently, a platoon was deployed by Blashill in which it would be unlikely for either the veteran Howard or the 23-year-old Czech Republic native Mrazek to start on consecutive nights.

However, as 2015 came to a close, it became more and more readily apparent that a #1 goaltender had emerged for the Wings.

Not only because of the fact that Howard is on pace to post his third straight season of a .910 save percentage or because he has allowed more than two and a half goals per game (2.66 goals against average) through 17 games played, according to Hockey Reference.

And it’s also not just due to the fact that Howard is on pace to record his second straight campaign of a save percentage below .920 at full strength or that he’s currently recording a career-low full season short-handed save percentage mark of .850.

The easy answer to the reason why: the play of Mrazek through 21 starts and 25 games in net.

In fact, two statistics — as of January 3rd — tell the difference in the level of play between Howard and Mrazek thus far this season.

First and foremost, Mrazek’s save percentage at even strength has improved to a career-high mark of .938. Compare that to Howard’s even strength save percentage, and you’ll find that Mrazek’s is double Howard’s (.919).

Then, there is the large discrepancy in quality start percentage between the two Wings’ goalies, with a QS percentage above 60 percent being rated as good and one below 50 percent being rated as bad (according to Hockey Reference).

Through 21 starts this season, Mrazek, the 2010 fifth-round selection of the Wings, has put up a QS percentage of 66.7, which is over 10 percent better than Howard’s 52.9 QS percentage.

To further indicate how poor Howard has been at stopping oppositions’ shots so far during the 2015-16 campaign, it’s important to note that according to Hockey Reference, Howard’s QS % is not even deemed as league average for an NHL goaltender. Note: The league average is considered to be 53 percent.

With all that being said, it should come as no surprise that Mrazek became the first Detroit goaltender during the 2015-16 campaign to start back-to-back nights after manning the net December 28th – 29th against the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets, respectively.

There has been no clearer sign that Blashill’s trust has been placed increasingly in Mrazek when it comes to Detroit’s goalie tandem, and there’s nothing wrong with that being the case.

Through January 3rd, Howard, for instance, has allowed at least two goals in each contest he has played in since December 8th against the Washington Capitals and has allowed three or more goals in every game he’s played since December 11th against the New Jersey Devils.

Simply put, Jimmy is not playing good enough to crack Detroit’s starting lineup right now. Thus, there’s never been a better chance for Mrazek to prove he’s capable of suiting up in net on a nightly basis.

We can’t be so quick to move on from Howard, though. The reason why: Red Wings general manager Ken Holland will have a hard time trying to deal him as a result of the six-year, $31.75 million extension Holland gave him in 2013.

Subsequently, according to, Howard is set to make $5.5 million both this season and next, although he’s putting up numbers that should relegate him to full-time backup duty.

While the contract is a reason to give him the majority of the starts in 2016, the Wings, who entering this week sat seventh in the Eastern Conference, are trying to qualify for the postseason for the 25th consecutive time.

Mrazek gives them the best chance to do that. Which is why he should be and will be even more of the primary goaltender for Blashill and Co. the rest of the way this season.