DETROIT – Jonas Gustavsson has a chance to add more controversy to the goalie situation in Detroit.
Gustavsson will take over the role as the starter with Jimmy Howard sidelined 2-4 weeks with a grade 1 medical collateral ligament in his left knee.
Gustavsson has just one loss in regulation this season in 12 appearances.
“He looks extremely good this year, obviously,” Daniel Alfredsson said. “He’s been healthy for a stretch again and at the right time. He’s off to a good start and playing with some confidence. He’s playing poised, he’s aggressive when he needs to be and it looks like he’s comfortable.”
Gustavsson, 28, is 8-1-2 this season and lowered his goals-against average to 1.93 after Thursday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Tampa Bay. His save percentage is .933.
“He’s played the way we hoped he would when we signed him,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “Last year was rough for him. He was injured and then when he got healthy it was a must-win every night and we rode Jimmy Howard every night.”
Howard, who was injured late in practice Wednesday, has struggled winning games this season, dropping to 6-8-7 after a 3-2 shootout loss to Florida on Tuesday.
“He’s been a big story for us this year,” Holland said. “He gives us a chance to win every night. You have to have two goalies going because the days of one guy playing 70 games are over.”
Howard has a 2.65 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage.
The injury may put Howard’s chance of being between the pipes when the Wings host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium on Jan. 1 in jeopardy.
It could also hinder his chances of being named to Team USA for the Winter Olympics.
Mrazek will serve as the backup to Gustavsson.
“With the two of them we believe they can give us the type of goaltending that gives us a chance to win,” Holland said.
Mrazek, who is 10-2-1 this season with the Griffins, made 14 saves in a 5-0 win at Edmonton in his lone appearance this season on Nov. 1.
Gustavsson has battled groin injuries during his two seasons in Detroit, beginning the year on injured reserve because of it.
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.