Injuries hampered Gustavsson’s time with Wings

Monster-MASH
Jonas Gustavsson has missed a total of 23 games on five separate occasions with three different types of injuries last season.

Groin (4 games from Oct. 2-10)

Neck (3 games from Nov. 1-4)

Groin (9 games from Dec. 30 to Jan. 20)

Groin (5 games from March 9-18)

Shoulder (2 games from April 11-13)

DETROIT >> Jonas Gustavsson’s two seasons in Detroit seemed to be spent mainly on the trainer’s table.

Battling injures from groins to shoulders, Gustavsson appeared in just 34 regular-season games with the Wings over two seasons.

“I mean it’s been a lot of injuries, you don’t want to have those for yourself and for your team,” Gustavsson said Tuesday during the Wings’ locker cleanout at Joe Louis Arena. “You want to be out there to be able to be part of the team every day, every day of the season so of course that sets me back. I’m going to keep working on it to prevent injuries like that.”

Gustavsson has missed a total of 23 games on five separate occasions with three different types of injuries last season.

Groin injuries have been his Achilles heel since signing a free agent deal with the Wings.

Along with missing 18 games due to a groin injury this season, he appeared in just seven of the 48 games during the lockout-shortened year last season, making just four starts. He didn’t play over the final 27 games of the season, which included the playoffs.

“I felt like I found a way that was working for me at the end of the season so hopefully I can build on that,” Gustavsson said. “The groin felt really good for the second part of the season for the most part so that’s something I’m going to keep working on and that’s something I need for myself too because I want to be playing at a high level for a long time and I want to try to take the next step and that’s part of taking the next step.”

When Gustavsson played, he played well this season, going 16-5-4 with a 2.63 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage. He appeared in the final two games of the playoffs, filling in for starter Jimmy Howard who was sidelined with the flu, and gave Detroit a chance.

Gustavsson has aspirations of perhaps being a No. 1 goalie somewhere, but could return to Detroit.

“I think every athlete wants to be as good as they can be and reach as high as they can, but that being said it’s not like I can go out on the open market and demand a starting role somewhere because there are a lot of good goalies,” said Gustavsson, who missed the final two regular- season games after suffering a left shoulder injury in a 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh. “You have to compete to get to that job. I would like to play a few more games that so I’m just going to try to go where I can feel like I can take that next step. It could be here and if so that’s great and if nothing happens here then you look at other stuff.”

The Wings’ top goalie prospect is Petr Mrazek, who’ll likely spend one more season in Grand Rapids in order to play in games instead of sitting on the bench as the backup in Detroit.

“We might,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said when asked if the team will need to search for a backup goalie next season. “We believe we have a 60-game No. 1 goalie. Is Petr Mrazek, as a 22-year-old, better off playing 15-18 games in the NHL or is he better off playing 65 games in the AHL for one more year? That’s the internal conversation we’ve got to have.”

Mrazek has played in 11 regular season games in parts of of two years in Detroit going 3-5-0 with a 1.74 GAA and a save percentage of .927. Two of his wins were shutouts.

“Everybody is enamored with (Anthony) Mantha and Mrazek and the people that aren’t here,” Holland said. “Well, the people that are here now, we were enamored with those people three years ago. Now they’re here and (people) want to know who’s next. It’s human nature. That’s why I try to keep (prospects) out of here as long as possible because there’s big expectations when you play in the NHL, there’s passion, there’s emotion and when a player doesn’t live up to those expectations and that hope, people get down on them real fast.”

Mrazek led the Griffins to the Calder Cup title last season.

“Whether (Petr) Mrazek plays here or Gustavsson plays here, Gus got half our wins this year,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “The bottom line is if you’re playing every day you have to earn the right to play every day. If you’re a tandem that’s what happens but the other guy has to earn the right to make that happen so we’ll see what happens.”

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