Blashill will rotate Howard, Mrazek in Wings goal

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit— Goaltender Jimmy Howard started Tuesday’s exhibition in Chicago, while Petr Mrazek is expected to start Wednesday in Detroit.

And the two likely will continue to alternate for a while before a starter is determined.

“We have a good number of back-to-back games in the early part of the season, so that gives an easy chance for both guys to get opportunities to play,” coach Jeff Blashill said.

“So between the preseason games, the early part of the season, we’re going to give both guys a real, legitimate chance to play and see if there’s separation.”

The Red Wings play eight exhibitions, and have six sets of back-to-back games before Thanksgiving.

“If there’s no separation, that’ll make it a hard decision for me that I’d love to have as long as it’s in the positive fashion, where they’ve both played great,” Blashill said.

Howard was the starter most of the season until suffering an injured groin in January.

Mrazek took hold of the starting job, and Howard was unable to wrestle it back.

Helping hands

Evgeny Svechnikov, a first-round pick from Russia, is playing junior hockey in Quebec to get familiar with North America.

But he credits teammate Alexey Marchenko with this adjustment to training camp.

Blashill aims to strike balance with Brendan Smith

“He was living with me (in Traverse City),” Svechnikov said. “He was helping me. And Dylan Larkin, the young guys, they were supporting me with the new stuff, it’s all the first time (for me).”

Svechnikov is returning to junior hockey at the end of the exhibition season, and is likely a few years from being ready for the NHL.

Blashill, however, likes what he’s seen from the scoring forward.

“He seems to have that inner drive it takes for people to be great,” Blashill said. “Talent is one thing, but you have to have character along with talent. He seems to have that type of character.

“(Svechnikov is) real strong on the puck, he has real good hands, he can make plays with the puck. His skating will get better because he has that inner drive.”

Ice chips

Johan Franzen (concussion) skated most of camp with the group playing in Tuesday’s game, but Blashill said the plan was for the forward to miss the game after four full days of skating.

“It’s been a long time since he played a game (January),” Blashill said.

“I just thought for somebody that’s been around a long time, let him have a day off here and he’ll practice (today).”

Franzen is scheduled to play Thursday night against the Penguins.

... Daniel Cleary (leg) skated for the first time, participating in Tuesday’s morning skate.

“I just talked to him real quick on the ice but he said he felt pretty good,” Blashill said.

... Blashill, on the organization’s depth: “Our scouts have done an excellent job to put us in the position where we have that kind of depth. We’ll need that depth through the course of the season, and it bodes well for the future.”

Blackhawks at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 Wednesday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit


Outlook: Detroit is expected to play a more veteran lineup than the one used Tuesday in Chicago, which will play more minor-leaguers. ... The Red Wings play their second game of three in three nights.