Four Red Wings made appearances in today’s game between Team Czech Republic and Team Europe. Names include Tomas Tatar, Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, and Petr Mrazek. Among all players, the one that stood out most was Mrazek. He was the backbone for the Czechs, who just couldn’t seem to find much consistent pressure. Despite a 3-2 loss in overtime, Mrazek showed the hockey world that he’s still the athletic freak-of-nature that he was early last season. Onto the recap!
Team Europe jumped out of the gate with the Kopitar, Hossa, and Tatar line, which has been a lot of fun to watch so far in the tournament. Petr Mrazek made some great saves in the opening minutes as his team tried to adjust to the speed and craftiness of Team Europe. The Czechs struggled to get setup when they were given the man advantage. Props to Team Europe for keeping them boxed out to the perimeter and holding them to only two shots. Even on a second power-play attempt, the Czechs still looked out of sync which led to no quality chances.
Perhaps the most exciting chance of the first period came from the Tatar line, but Zdeno Chara whipped a pillow-soft shot at Mrazek’s short-side:
This was a real boring period of hockey. Score is 0-0 after 20 minutes.
Team Europe had a few great looks on the power-play, but Petr Mrazek continued to look sharp, keeping his team in the game:
Shortly after this save, Kempny closed his hand on the puck and moved it out of the crease, which awarded Team Europe a penalty shot. Again, Petr Mrazek came up big against Anze Kopitar:
Team Czech Republic had a stretch of promising play to open the period, holding the opposition shot-less for an extended amount of time. Despite that, Team Europe managed to pull ahead on a goal from Zdeno Chara. Not much Mrazek could do on this one... His lateral movement was great, he got in position, Chara’s shot was just a complete heat-seeker, Thomas Vanek picked up the primary assist on this one:
About three-and-a-half minutes later, the Czechs knotted the game back up. Jakub Voracek sniped it past Jaroslav Halak, and thankfully, the game had taken on a slightly more entertaining role in my afternoon. Despite shots being lopsided at 29-14 in favor of Europe, the game is tied at one a piece after 40 minutes. Petr Mrazek continues to play his rear-end off.
It opened up all Team Europe, and they earned themselves a 5-on-3 power-play because of it. Petr Mrazek continued his extraordinary play with this disgusting robbery to save his team:
This save had the commentary screaming. It was pretty cool.
After such an amazing save, Mrazek had an unfortunate flub that put Europe up by one. It took the wind right out of my sails:
Regardless, Mrazek has been magnificent all game. This was his first oopsie-daisy of the game. Fortunately for Mrazek, his team did him a favor and got a power-play tally not too long after on a goal from Martin Hanzal that ricocheted off the boards and right into his wheelhouse to push past Halak. The Czechs started to show a pulse on offense.
Both teams returned to a conservative form after it was tied at two. The third period sailed by without much to note, and that set us up for 3-on-3 overtime.
It didn’t take long for Team Europe to put a ribbon on this game. Leon Draisaitl got a breakaway chance and froze Mrazek completely. You’d like to see Mrazek challenge a bit more, but he decided to stay deep into his crease.
Leon Draisaitl game winner + ref cam angle pic.twitter.com/vFvIcnQgL5— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) September 19, 2016
All-in-all, Mrazek played extremely well, and kept the score close in many situations where Team Europe had the Czechs pinned. He let up a soft one, which is tough to digest, but his all-around play today was a fantastic display of his skill and athleticism. He definitely earned my POTG.