One of the qualities necessary to be a professional athlete is the ability to put bad performances and bad stretches behind you and not dwell on them.
Young Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek recently proved he can do that.
Though Detroit had won six-out-of-seven games, the 22-year-old netminder had a four-game stretch in which he allowed 16 goals and was pulled twice.
He brought that immediate history with him into last Saturday afternoon’s contest against the New York Islanders at Joe Louis Arena.
Mrazek, who started the season with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League and was forced to carry the load by injuries to starter Jimmy Howard and backup Jonas Gustavsson, made 21 saves in a 4-1 win that put the Red Wings in first place in the Atlantic Division.
“You have to be mentally strong,” Mrazek said. “You just bounce back and be strong mentally and physically.”
Detroit coach Mike Babcock agreed.
“Those things happen sometimes. You have to have a real short memory in this league,” Babcock said. “He’s been yanked now twice and he’s responded the next night and I really like that. He’s still got to develop as a goaltender. He’s got to work on his skill set but I think his mind is really good.”
Mrazek is 11-4-1 with a 2.66 goals-against average and .907 saves percentage in 17 games in 2014-15. Among his wins this season are the team’s only two shootout victories.
“That’s a young, mature kid there, and I think you see his, people call it his moxie or his charisma, and that helps. Guys who can forget quickly are the best players,” Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith said. “If you dwell on it you create your own snowball and it’s a bad thing. I think it’s good to see him bounce back and we knew he would because he’s that kind of person and he’s going to be a heck of a goalie.”
Mrazek’s career numbers are 14-9-1 with a 2.34 GAA and .913 saves percentage.
The native of Ostrava, Czech Republic has benefited from the advice of others.
“When I talked with other goalies when I was young, other goalies in Czech League about how they prepared when they didn’t play well before. I took something for them,” Mrazek said.
Last month, Hasek had the opportunity to meet his goaltending idol and countryman.
The Buffalo Sabres retired the No. 39 of Dominik Hasek, who won two Stanley Cups with Detroit, before their game against the Red Wings on Jan. 13.
“It’s nice when you meet the legend and the goalie who did so much stuff for country and for himself,” Mrazek said. “He won everything he could. I just say congratulations to him for what he did.”
Mrazek then went out and made 25 saves in a 3-1 win over the Sabres. It was his first start after Howard’s groin injury put him on the shelf.
Mrazek kept the game puck.
“It’s Dom’s number on the puck so I’d like to keep it. It’s nice to have these memories,” he said. “I have every puck from junior championship or from the Calder Cup Finals. So I rescue every puck I can. It’s nice to keep.
“I have it for the rest of my life.”