Wings coach Mike Babcock: “Give Pete an opportunity here because we need that area fixed.”

DETROIT >> Wings coach Mike Babcock gave Jimmy Howard one more chance to keep his No. 1 status between the pipes.

And now Babcock has taken it away.

After allowing three goals on 10 shots after one period in Thursday’s 6-4 loss to the San Jose Sharks at Joe Louis Arena, Babcock made the switch to Petr Mrazek the rest of the way.

Babcock then handed Mrazek the starting role for the time being after the game.

“When you’re behind like we are, you’re giving up too many goals,” Babcock said. “Let’s not worry about the turnovers at this point. Let’s fix how we’re playing without the puck, let’s get … Pete Mrzek’s got to get himself ready to go. Give Pete an opportunity here because we need that area fixed.

“It’s amazing when you get a little confidence in that area we can all settle down and get playing better,” Babcock continued. “We’ve scored tons of goals in the last couple of games but like I said it’s like chasing the game. You can’t play like that, you’ve got to play right. So we’re going to get regrouped and I guarantee we’ll be ready to play.”

Howard has allowed eight goals on 32 shots in slightly over four periods.

“I agree with you,” Babcock said when asked if Howard looked uncomfortable in the first period. “It’s one of those things. I haven’t talked to him, I’ll talk to him (Friday), but obviously it didn’t go the way he wanted.

“We gave him an opportunity to bounce back, he didn’t do that,” Babcock added. “We’ll give Pete Mrazek an opportunity here. As a group of coaches and a group of players we just got to bunker in here (Friday) and have a good conversation, have a good practice and get ready to play. Like I said we’ll be back ready to go.”

Howard, who turned 31 on Thursday, has been very inconsistent since returning in mid-February from a groin injury.

He was easily one of the reasons why the Wings are where they’re at now because of his strong play to start the season.

When Babcock was asked if he had a No. 1 goalie he responded with, “I’m starting Pete Mrazek next game.”

Mrazek also gave up a softy to Patrick Marleau, which proved to be the game winner.

“I didn’t like the second goal,” Babcock said. “Was that the fifth goal? When you’ve given up as many as we have it’s hard to remember. But the one, the chicken wing.

“(Logan) Couture’s shot’s a great shot, but that can’t happen to you,” Babcock continued. “But he’ll get the start next game and we need him to bunker down and play the way he’s capable of playing.”

The Wings, who lost 5-4 in overtime on Tuesday to Arizona, host Tampa Bay on Saturday.

“Same goes for everyone else,” Babcock said. “We had D that didn’t box out and weren’t ready to go at the start either. We’re all in this together. We took our lumps here today and last game. We’ve given up a lot of goals at home. That’s not how we want to play. That’s not Red Wing-like. We’ll come in here tomorrow and get it fixed.”

Detroit is 3-7-1 in its past 11 games.


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