Petr Mrazek made his first comments to the Flyers’ media after taking part in the team’s morning skate on Tuesday. Mrazek won’t play against the Montreal Canadiens this evening, but he’s likely to start when the Flyers play Columbus on Thursday.
NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Boruk noted Mrazek’s remarks…
Petr Mrazek has endured a rather eventful past 24 hours. Following news of the trade to the Flyers, Mrazek didn’t go to bed until 2 a.m. and was awake at 4 a.m. to catch a flight to Philadelphia that had him at the Wells Fargo Center in time for the Flyers’ morning skate.
“I didn’t see it coming,” Mrazek said. “I got a call at 9:30 from (Red Wings GM) Ken Holland and then Ron Hextall. Yeah, I’m excited. A couple of months ago I had a good conversation with Ken Holland about it and he said if he had a good opportunity to do it, he was going to try and move me. I was really happy.”
With Michal Neuvirth now expected to miss the next 4 to 6 weeks with a lower-body injury, and Brian Elliott scheduled to be out until late March recovering from core muscle surgery, Mrazek will now be the Flyers’ go-to guy in net.
“Petr’s a proven guy,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That goes without saying. We’ve said all along we have confidence in Alex and he’s starting tonight, but Hexy alluded to it, going out and getting an established veteran NHL goaltender and that’s what Petr is.”
Mrazek’s game has definitely reached another level since the calendar flipped to 2018. The 26-year-old netminder has a 5-3-2 record to go along with a 2.29 GAA and a .925 save percentage since Jan. 1.
“I changed a couple of things during the summer,” Mrazek said. “I didn’t play much the first half of the season and it was tough for me to find my game playing once in two weeks or once in three weeks. It was tough but I worked hard during that stretch on the ice to try and improve my game, and I think over the past few months it was going in the right direction.”
As did the Courier-Post’s Dave Isaac…
Mrazek, 26, knew he was on the trade block. He had conversations with Ken Holland a couple months ago and had faith that Detroit’s general manager was trying to find a fit for him.
Still, when the deal actually went through he was caught off guard. His game had improved in the last couple months after a rough start.
“I was moving too much,” he said. “I was all over the place. I tried to stay in the blue paint more and if the puck comes to you, if you find it you can have it. I adjusted that.”
Now comes another adjustment.
There’s not going to be a platoon here like there was in Detroit. Lyon may get the occasional game here and there, but Mrazek will be the one the Flyers trot out there in big situations and unless Elliott has a very quick recovery, Mrazek will likely be the playoff starter when and if the time comes. Some goalies are comfortable with the competition of a platoon. Mrazek is more comfortable not looking over his shoulder at Detroit’s Jimmy Howard.
“The pressure for both of us was pretty high,” he said. “You have to show up every night if you want to play the next game. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s a really good thing when we can battle between goalies and do the best that we can. Sometimes when they say, ‘you’re the guy who’s gonna play for a while,’ I think it’s better.”
And Philly.com’s Sam Carchidi spoke with Mrazek’s teammates regarding their new goaltender:
Flyers center Val Filppula was with Detroit when Mrazek was in the Red Wings system, but never played with the goalie. In later years, however, he made a lasting impression on Filppula.“He’s really quick. He challenges [shooters] a lot, and he’s really quick side to side,” Filppula said.Like Voracek, Gudas played with Mrazek on Czech Republic national teams.“I think our goalies were doing a really good job … and keeping teams honest, and I think he’s going to do the same thing,” Gudas said.Giroux said the injuries to Neuvirth and Elliott were just part of the territory.
“You look at Vegas. They had a lot of goalie injuries and they had guys stepping in and getting the job done,” he said. “That’s what we’re looking for right now.”
Giroux called Mrazek “a real dominating goalie, and it’s exciting to have him on our team.”
Petr Mrazek sounds confident that he’s turned the corner with his game and more playing time will help him. The numbers bear that out:
DET’s 1st 40 games: 11 games, 3-4-1, 3.64 GAA, .892 SVP
DET’s last 19 games: 11 games, 5-3-2, 2.29 GAA, .925 SVP pic.twitter.com/Q85FWgYaOP
— Adam Kimelman (@NHLAdamK) February 20, 2018
Update: Here’s more from Mrazek via NHL.com’s Kimelman:
“When [the Red Wings] came to the building, we all know how tough it is to play against [the Flyers],” Mrazek said about Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday. “They have fast forwards, fast defense and a really good power play. This building, it’s loud, they have great fans. It was always tough for us to play here. I hope we’re going to make that happen to the other teams now.”
Mrazek, 26, arrived in time for the morning skate, but will back up Alex Lyon against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSP, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV). He could make his first Flyers start against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.
The Flyers needed veteran help while Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth recover from injuries. Elliott had surgery to repair a core muscle injury Feb. 13 and is expected to be out 5-6 weeks. Neuvirth will be out 4-6 weeks because of a lower-body injury sustained against the New York Rangers on Sunday.
After playing 11 of the Red Wings’ first 40 games, Mrazek played 11 of the past 19, going 5-3-2 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. He was 3-4-1 with a 3.64 GAA and .892 save percentage in his first 11 games.
“The last two months were better for our team in Detroit,” said Mrazek, who was 72-58-20 with a 2.60 GAA and .912 save percentage in six seasons with Detroit. “I got to play more, had the chance to play more minutes. … I didn’t play much the first half of the season and I think it was tough for me to find a game when I played once in two weeks, once in three weeks. I think it was tough.
“During that stretch, I worked hard on the ice and tried to improve my game, and I think in the last two months the game was in the right direction.”