DETROIT >> For the time being, this is Petr Mrazek’s team.
Mrazek has been elevated to the Wings’ No. 1 goalie after the team placed Jimmy Howard on injured reserve with a groin injury.
“It’s a good opportunity for him,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We’re going to have to get him settled down a little bit. There’s a point where he challenges and then over-challenges. We’ve got to get that under control. We should have no trouble with that.”
It’s still not known the extent of Howard’s injury.
He had an MRI Sunday, but will need to have an ultrasound Monday to determine the severity of the injury.
Howard, who had just been named to the 2015 All-Star Game, was injured Saturday night after he gave the puck away behind the net and then lunged his left leg backwards to try and reach the post before Washington’s Troy Brouwer scored just 1:53 into the first period.
He was taken from the ice on a stretcher.
Howard was having one of his best seasons of his career. He’s 16-7-7 record in 32 games while ranking fourth in the NHL in goals-against average (2.11) and tied for 11th in save percentage (.920).
Mrazek is the Wings’ goalie of the future.
“He’s a good goaltender, he plays the puck well and he’ll win games for us,” Babcock said.
This season he’s 5-3-1 with a 2.29 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.
“For being a young guy he plays with a lot of confidence,” Jonathan Ericsson said. “I like the way he wants to stay in the game, he wants to play the puck for us. He looks confident doing that and that makes us confident about him.
“I think he’s been making some really nice plays, better passes than the D sometimes,” Ericsson continued. “He’s making big saves for us. I feel like he’s comfortable and confident back there. That’s everything about today’s game.”
Mrazek has played 20 career NHL games, with a 8-8-3 record.
“When I played three games in a row before Christmas, I felt great,” Mrazek said. “Always when you can play lots of games in a row, it helps you get confidence and you’re going get into the game. But it’s not nice to see Howie hurt.”
Because Jonas Gustavsson is still recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered in November, the Wings recalled Tom McCollum from Grand Rapids. McCollum is 10-8-1 this season with the Griffins with a 2.33 GAA and .911 save percentage in 21 games.