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Detroit Red Wings Season Player Grades: The Goalies

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Goalie Love
Goalie Love
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Wings had 3 NHL goalies on their hands at the end of training camp, and thanks to injuries to both Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson, they'd need all 3 and then some. With Jimmy Howard and Jonas Gustavsson in Detroit Petr Mrazek started once again in Grand Rapids but as is often the case, things didn't go quite as planned.

It's time to grade the Red Wings goalies.

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Jonas Gustavsson

#50 / G / Detroit Red Wings

6-3

192

Oct 24, 1984


Season Preview Expectation: "With the changes I saw in training camp and pre-season, I expect Gustavsson to be healthy this season and push Jimmy to be better and be the back up we need. He's calmer, more comfortable, controlled, relaxed, and under control. He's also butterflying more and not doing the splits and flailing around; which will take a lot of pressure off his groin and help him stay healthy and playing. I expect gus gus to have his best season yet."

Season Recap: The good news is that with a .911 SV% and 2.56 GAA, Monster did have his best statistical season. His groin also held up all season and didn't keep him from playing. Unfortunately a shoulder injury caused him to miss 36 games, and a concussion took him out on March 8th and he missed the rest of the season. In the 7 games he did play, he had 2 shutouts and 3 games with a sub .900 SV%. After he returned from his shoulder injury, he was a healthy scratch while Petr Mrazek backed up Jimmy Howard. It's unknown if Gustavsson was suffering from a concussion as long as he was out, or if Petr Mrazek had simply passed him by. He was only healthy and avaliable to play for 27 games, played in 7 of those, and had a couple very good outings and a few poor ones. He was injured most of the season, was inconsistent while healthy, and Petr Mrazek is already a better goalie. Farewell Monster, good luck playing good hockey for another 10 years.

Final Grade: D

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Jimmy Howard

#35 / G / Detroit Red Wings

6-01

218

Mar 26, 1984


Preview Recap: I expect big things from Jimmy this season. He lost a significant amount of weight (10-15 pounds) over the summer and he looks very slim, trim, and kind of buff. He's a lot quicker and more agile, and he looks absolutely fantastic so far. He's also using a lower, more aggressive stance and tweaked where he's holding his glove and blocker. I've never seen Jimmy look so good, and I think he's going to have a hell of a bounce back season.

Season Recap:Jimmy got off to a great start, he was healthy, fit, limber, and was a top 5 goalie in the league. He had a 16-6-7 record and a .921 SV% on January 10th. Then the fateful game against the Capitals happened and Jimmy tore his groin while awkwardly trying to make a save. He missed only 10 games before coming back, and his 7-6-4 record (with 5 no decisions) and .896 SV% are merely statistical proof of what the eye test also told us. Howard may have returned from his injury, but he wasn't healed and certainly wasn't playing like himself.

The drastic difference in his performance is pretty easy to see. Note that his pre-injury SV% trendline held steady, while his post-injury SV% trendline plummeted.

This would be a failure of a season for Howard if anything other than a serious injury were at fault, and it is a mitigating factor in him not receiving an F. Some injuries a goalie can overcome, play through, and cover up for but a torn groin isn't one of them. I still think Jimmy would have had a killer season if not for the injury, which makes his season even more frustrating. Before the injury, he was stealing games for the Wings and playing the best hockey he's ever played, after the injury he wasn't able to even move properly and every game was a struggle. If only we could have had healthy Jimmy Howard all season.

Final Grade: C

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Petr Mrazek

#34 / G / Detroit Red Wings

6-02

183

Feb 14, 1992


Preview Recap: "He'll be the starter in Grand Rapids this year while getting a few call ups with the Wings. I expect him to once again be one of the top goalies in the AHL (he was 2nd last year). He'll have to be patient knowing he should be in the NHL this season and make sure he stays focused in Grand Rapids and doesn't get frustrated. I expect to think "he should be with the Wings" a lot throughout the season."

Season Recap: Mrazek was in Grand Rapids for a total of 18 Griffins games this season and played a whopping 13 total  games in the AHL. The rest of his season was spent in Detroit, first because of Jonas Gustavsson's injury, then because both Jimmy and Monster were injured, and then because that's where he belonged regardless of Gustavsson's status. The Berries finished the regular season with a 16-9-2 record with 3 shutouts, .918 SV% and 2.38 GAA. In 7 playoff games he had a 3-4-0 record with 2 shutouts, a .925 SV% and 2.11 GAA.

As is common for rookies, Mrazek had trouble with consistency, sometimes looking like a top NHL goalie, and other times letting in the softest goals. That being said, without Mrazek the Wings would have been completely sunk and this season he got the opportunity to showcase his incredible skills, mental fortitude, and compete level in the NHL; this was a significant season for Petr Mrazek. He only had 11 NHL games under his belt before this season and due in large part to his performance, earned the playoff starts over Jimmy Howard.  His struggles with consistency which led to being pulled several times and letting in some stinkers are predominantly what kept him from getting an A overall.

Final Grade:B+

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