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Petr Mrazek Comes Up Big

from Brendan Savage of Mlive,

During the first six weeks of 2016, Petr Mrazek was arguably the best goaltender in the NHL.

In his first 13 appearances of 2016, Mrazek had a 10-2-1 record, 1.31 goals-against average and .951 save percentage - vaulting to the top of the NHL in the latter two categories.

Saturday night in Nashville, he showed that same form in recording his first shutout of the season, making 42 saves during a 1-0 victory over the Nashville Predators.

Coach Jeff Blashill started him on back-to-back nights with the hope that Mrazek might catch fire as the Red Wings desperately try to keep their 25-season playoff streak alive and Mrazek came through.

"Belief," Blashill said when asked why he came back with Mrazek after he backstopped Friday's 5-4 victory over the Islanders. "I got belief that - I've said this before - we need to go on a run and in order to go on a run we need a goalie to get hot and I know Petr can get hot.

"I've seen it in the American League, I've seen in the NHL. Last year in January he was probably the best goalie in the league. So I guess belief would be the word why I went back with him."

continued

Below, watch the extended game highlights from awood40...

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The overnight report: Red Wings-Predators wrap-up

The Red Wings earned a gritty, muck-and-grind-y 1-0 win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night, riding a Mike Green goal and a 42-save performance from Petr Mrazek to a pair of wins in back-to-back games.

Saturday night's game wasn't the prettiest from an aesthetic standpoint, but the Red Wings finally scored the game's first goal, and the Wings managed to make that lead stand thanks to improved defensive play, a gritty effort on a night when the rules were liberally interpreted, and, of course, a stellar set of stops from #34, who looked a little more mobile in his "skinny jean" legal goal pants.

Even our friends from Nashville had to compliment Mrazek's performance, as NashvillePredators.com's Brooks Bratten noted:

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Prospect news: Griffins lose in Howard’s ‘debut’; Walleye lose to K-Zoo; Hronek 1+1

Of Red Wings and prospect-related note:

In the AHL, the Grand Rapids Griffins almost overcame Jimmy Howard's rust, losing 5-4 to the Milwaukee Admirals in no small part due to a 24-save-on-29-shot performance by the goaltender wearing #33, but the Griffins website's recap indicates that Howard and the Griffins didn't get any puck luck, either:

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Crain’s Detroit Business’ Shea: Little Caesars Arena could have a third sports tenant down the line

According to Crain's Detroit Business's Bill Shea, it is entirely possible, if not probable, that the Red Wings and Pistons will not be the only sports franchise tenants at Little Caesars Arena:

Adding a third team remains a few years away, but it represents an opportunity for smaller businesses to spend marketing dollars inside the new arena they otherwise couldn't afford to pay with the major league teams. It's a difference of thousands versus millions.

The Wings and Pistons are to begin play at the $635 million arena in September, but it would be at least three or more years before the venue and its management could realistically consider more teams in the building, said Tom Wilson, president of Olympia Entertainment. Olympia will handle scheduling at the new arena.

For a couple of years, all attention will be on the complex task of moving two major league franchises into a brand-new 20,000-seat building, and scheduling concerts and other events jockeying to use the state-of-the-art facility, Wilson said.

"Our focus has been so much on getting this thing built and making it magnificent" for the Red Wings and Pistons, Wilson said.

But leasing the arena to minor league teams — or the owners of the Red Wings and Pistons launching additional teams themselves — could happen, he said.

"It's always possible. Some of those leagues have called; we've had feelers from the Arena Football League and lacrosse," Wilson said. "So many of those leagues struggle for an identity; they're looking for a big city or a new arena."

Shea continues, and while I know some of you are thinking this, I don't see the Grand Rapids Griffins moving down I-96 any time soon.

As Shea suggests--and Tom Wilson concurs--the Wings and Pistons would most likely look for a minor league sports team that plays in the spring and summer, when its schedule doesn't conflict with hockey and basketball games, and weekend dates remain available.

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Red Wings-Predators quick take: a gritty win in Nashville

The Red Wings hoped to best one of the NHL's best home teams in the Nashville Predators on Saturday evening, with the Wings trying to sweep the back half of a slate of back-to-back games.

Detroit mucked and ground and worked its way to a 1-0 victory over the Predators, with Petr Mrazek playing absolutely masterfully in a 42-save shutout effort.

While the Red Wings were terrible on the power play (again), out-shot by a significant margin (again) and faced stiff, physical opposition on a night that was, for the most part, "decided by the players," the Wings showed up wearing their work boots, and they ground down the Predators because they scored the game's first goal and hung on when necessary. This game may serve as a template for the efforts Detroit and its goaltenders will have to put in for the remainder of the season, come hell or high water.

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Tomas Jurco trying to overcome frustration

Tomas Jurco's drawing back into the Red Wings' lineup for tonight's game against Nashville, but Jurco isn't particularly happy with his present playing situation, as MLive's Brendan Savage noted:

"It is difficult," said Jurco, who will be playing his third game in a month tonight against the Nashville Predators. "It is hard when you don't play. I'm not going to lie. When I played every game, I didn't feel any pressure and I just played and I had fun.

"But then when you don't play for three weeks, you play a couple games and then you don't play and you play. You're not used to it, you're into the game that much. You're, I wouldn't say stressed out, but it's not like you play. All I gotta do is, like I said, just play hockey. Just be positive and play hockey."

Jurco has been a frequent healthy scratch since missing training camp and the first six weeks of the season after undergoing offseason back surgery. When he was finally cleared to play, Jurco spent two games with the Grand Rapids Griffins - getting one goal and one assist - before rejoining the Red Wings Nov. 29 vs. Dallas.

But he's only played 13 games with the Red Wings and has suited up in just two over the past month.

"Like I said many times, it's sport, it's business," said Jurco, 24. "It's not easy but it is how it is and I just got to work hard and stay positive. I don't know what you guys want me to say. It's tough. Obviously it's not easy. I'm not going to do anything about it and I'm just going to keep going. Just the same thing, stay positive and just play hockey."

Savage continues, sharing Jurco and Jeff Blashill's perspectives on the situation, and he posted a clip of Jurco's comments...

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Howard ready to start for the Griffins

The Grand Rapids Griffins host the Milwaukee Admirals this evening, and in the Griffins' Game-Day Preview video, Jimmy Howard discusses his status as the Griffins' starter tonight:

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Red Wings-Predators game-day Tweets and articles: Mrazek starts instead; Nielsen, Kronwall out

Updated 8x with Predators video at 3:55 PM: The Red Wings and Predators held optional morning skates ahead of tonight's game between the teams (8 PM EST on FSD/FS Tennessee/97.1 FM), but it appears that Petr Mrazek will start for the Wings opposite Pekka Rinne, and the Free Press's Helene St. James reported that Frans Nielsen will miss the game due to an upper-body injury.

After the morning skate, St. James revealed that the Wings will be dealing with another injury, which she reports is a "day-to-day" issue:

Niklas Kronwall out tonight, lower body,

...

Blashill wouldn't say who starts, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Petr Mrazek again

...

Petr Mrazek says he's starting tonight at Nashville

And that likely means that both Nick Jensen and Xavier Ouellet will remain in the lineup despite Brendan Smith's return.

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan confirmed...

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Red Wings-Predators morning skate Tweets and articles: Coreau starts for DET, Howard for GR

The Red Wings will attempt to buld upon their win over the Islanders as they face off against the Nashville Predators this evening (8 PM EST on FSD/FS Tennessee/97.1 FM).

The Predators hit the ice at Bridgestone Arena for their morning skate just after 11:20 AM, per the Tennessean's Adam Vingan...

Roman Josi is heading to the ice for the Predators' optional AM skate.

...

Roman Josi wouldn't say if he's playing tonight, but Tony Bitetto's still skating. Seems like a good sign that 59 will return.

The Predators' waiver wire player cleared...

The Predators' intention is to assign Mike Ribeiro to AHL Milwaukee. We'll see if he goes. He hasn't played an AHL game since 2002-03.

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Toronto Maple Leafs claim Alexey Marchenko

Not surprising per se, per Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman...

And Sportsnet's Chris Johnston:

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About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.

 

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