Petr Mrazek commands spot in Red Wings' plans

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Tampa, Fla. — Petr Mrazek certainly gave the Red Wings something to think about heading into next season.

The young goaltender staked his claim for the starting job next season with a fine performance in his first-ever NHL playoff series.

Mrazek made 15 saves in Wednesday's 2-0 Game 7 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"Outstanding, he gave us a chance to win every night," captain Henrik Zetterberg said. "He did the same thing tonight. He made some key, key saves. He didn't get a lot of chances but when you get them, they're dangerous and he was good."

Coach Mike Babcock replaced Jimmy Howard with Mrazek before the start of the series and Mrazek didn't disappoint, with two shutouts against the Lightning.

"It was a good experience. I hope it will help for the future," Mrazek said.

Of the goal that broke the third-period tie, a shot by defenseman Braydon Coburn, the Wings goalie said he barely saw it.

"He (Ryan Callahan) passed from behind the net (to Coburn) for a one-timer," Mrazek said. "The defenseman (Danny DeKeyser) tried to block it, and he (Coburn) made a little fake and he perfectly put it top shelf."

Babcock thought Mrazek showed well for the future.

"He was great," Babcock said. "He was good. He's a young guy with good athleticism and a good mind for the game. He's going to get better."

Babcock future

Both Henrik Zetterberg and Jonathan Ericsson steered clear of the question regarding Babcock's future.

Both said it was up to Babcock whether he wants to remain the coach, Babcock being free to negotiate with other teams on July 1 when his Red Wings contract expires.

"It's not my call," Ericsson said. "He's a real good coach. I'm sure a lot of teams will want him. He's been doing a real good job for us."

Zetterberg left it to Babcock and general manager Ken Holland.

"It's not up to me," Zetterberg said. "It's up to the GM and him and I think they will talk. They've probably started talking, and we just have to wait and see."

Great fill-ins

With Niklas Kronwall (suspension) and Marek Zidlicky (upper body) both unavailable, Jakub Kindl and Alexey Marchenko filled in on defense and played well.

Kindl played 16 minutes, 37 seconds and had one hit and one takeaway, while being minus-1. Marchenko played 13:11 and had one hit and one blocked shot.

"Both played real good," Zetterberg said. "Kindl came in and probably was our best defenseman tonight. He made a lot of good plays and it was impressive to see when you've been out of the lineup for (the entire series)."

Ice chips

On the Lightning's puck luck in Game 7 and the Red Wings' lack thereof, Babcock said: "They went to church and we must have missed Mass."

… Six of the seven games in the series were won by the team that scored first.

"Any way you look at it, you have to score," Babcock said. "It's disappointing for our group, for sure. We thought we did a lot of good things."

… Before Wednesday, the Red Wings had played 24 previous Game 7's and had been shut out only once (4-0 by Toronto in 1964 Stanley Cup Finals), according to ESPN.