I'm completely perplexed by all of this right now. Sure our goalie isn't playing great. Sure our defense isn't spectacular. I completely get that. But is our defense any worse than Pittsburgh, or Ottawa, or Vancouver, or Minnesota? Is our goalie worse than Winnipeg or Calgary? I mean, what confuses me is why we're falling off a cliff right now. If we were just a mediocre team, I'd get it. But mediocre teams are playing more consistently than we are. We've got the same weaknesses as every other mediocre team, but they're staying the same or trending up, and we are in a tailspin at a time in the season when you want to be heating up. We added a 20 goal scorer, a 30+ point defenseman, and they're both playing great...yet somehow we're worse off for it. How does that happen?
It's a young team, who were comfortably in a playoff spot. They took the foot off of the gas during a time when other teams battling for the playoffs/playoff positioning are stepping up their game for the home stretch of the season. That combined with a few key injuries has led to an absolutely slump.
I'm confident they'll get things going good again some playoff time (hopefully before the season ends). Last year they s*** the bed and had nothing left when the playoffs started. Hopefully this slump just means they are getting it out of the way. My only concern is how inconsistent Howard has been. He doesn't have much time to get back into form. Will be very bad if he can't find it all while Mrazek is sitting on the bench every game.
The team is going through a slump. Every team goes through slumps. The 07/08 Red Wings went through a slump (albeit started by injuries). Babcock is smart enough to realize no team is gonna coast through a season without facing adversity. This slump will have absolutely no effect on his decision in the offseason.
Even though Gus is injury prone, I still don't see Mrazek getting the backup job over him when/if he returns this season, no matter how well Mrazek plays. He'll most likely be a healthy scratch or back in GR, cause thats just how it seems to work. Next season though he'll be the full time backup. Never know though I guess...
I honestly think Gus has had his last start with this team. With there no longer being a roster limit post trade deadline, I think Mrazek is here to stay. Only chance I can see him being sent down is if Howard starts playing like he did before his injury again, and they want Mrazek to log minutes.
This phrase obviously sticks out and you must have meant it to provoke a response: "I just don't understand why people would rather lose with Howard than win with Mrazek. It doesn't make sense." Come on! You know things are not as simple as that. Mrazek will be a great goalie, but he's still getting used to the league and developing. It's not being "a Howard apologist" or Howard diehard or whatever to be reticent to put our trust in Mrazek in this year's playoffs. He's got us wins, but has also been pulled a couple of times and had a string of bad games. He hasn't been absolute lights out and that's what he would have to be to supplant an established number 1 goalie. It's definitely not "lose with Howard than win with Mrazek" in the playoffs. We really don't know how Mrazek would perform in that situation.
A more measured response to Mrazek's success is to allow him Gus's spot as backup and get him some more games this year. I don't think anyone would be against Mrazek playing the next game after a solid win. Then we'll hope Howard can get back into the form he was in earlier in the season. That would be the best situation for the team come playoff time. He was being talked about for the Vezina and had a top GAA at some point. We're not talking about Joey MacDonald here. (Sorry, Joey - was trying to think of a low level goalie) Then let's see how they play for the rest of the season. If Mrazek goes full Hammond and Howard struggles mightily, then maybe it's time for this discussion. It's not right now from what we've seen.
The thing is, ever since his very short span of bad games, he has been nothing but lights out. I'm not saying the team should give up on Howard and get rid of him in the offseason. But Mrazek is the hot goalie right now and they should absolutely give him as many starts as Howard for the time being to give one of the two the chance to absolutely prove they are the go to guy come round one. Having Mrazek sitting on the bench every game is the worst thing they could do with how hot he has been since just before Howard came back from injury. He needs to get regular playing time. Luckily the next two games are back to back, meaning he and Howard will start each of them anyway. All I know is that the pressure should absolutely be on Howard during his next start. Because his job as the playoff starter should absolutely be on the line.
Had Mrazek started against Philly, and Howard against PIT, the scores probably would have been nearly the same with the way our skaters played in each of those games,
No doubt the Wings played much better against the Pens overall. But Mrazek's play also could have had a lot to do with that. It was the same last year when Gus was in net. The team played better.
Mrazek also made the early lead matter. Pens had several chances to get themselves back into the game, but Mrazek shut the door. And the Wings responded to that every single time.