Two good goalies no problem for Wings' Blashill

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Jimmy Howard waves to the crowd after beating the Maple Leafs on Friday night.

Detroit – Some may call it a problem, but if it is, it's a problem most hockey coaches would like to have.

And coach Jeff Blashill sure doesn't seem to mind it, at all.

There appear to be two capable NHL goaltenders on the Red Wings roster – Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek.

With the way the schedule shapes up, with six back-to-back sets of games before Thanksgiving and a relatively busy schedule beginning the later part of October, both will get a good share of playing time.

There's no need to anoint one a No. 1 goalie. For Blashill, it has been good to see both goalies play as well as they have during this exhibition season.

"Over the long term of the (training) camp, both guys have been real good," Blashill said. "Every single day, whether it's been games, or practices, or small games we've played (during practice).

"So it's like I've said -- it's better to have real good players at very every position, and goaltending is included in that, especially with the schedule we have to start the season."

Howard is 3-0-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average and .942 save percentage during the preseason, while Mrazek (who was scheduled to start Saturday night in Toronto) is 1-0-1 with a 2.38 GAA and .929 SVS.

"We're going to need both guys no matter what the situation is," said Howard, talking about the competition between the two. "Petr and I are good friends. We get along great. We want the best for each other.

"It's one of those friendly competitions where we'll be pushing each other and it's only going to make our team better."

Larkin's chances

Is Dylan Larkin going to make the Red Wings' final roster?

The numbers seem stacked against him, but Larkin certainly has distinguished himself as a player to watch in the not too distant future.

"Dylan has done a good job for himself, had a good camp, and now it's our job to decide who are best 14 forwards are to start," Blashill said.

Larkin is a the point he'd like closure and be able to call either Detroit or Grand Rapids home for a while.

"There's been so much speculation and so many questions, and no one really knows," said Larkin, the Waterford native who played one season at Michigan. "Maybe the coaches know, but just to find out where I'll be living or what's happening -- I'm kind of sick of the hotel. It would be nice to know what's going on."

If it is Grand Rapids – which is probably likely to start the season – Larkin would be fine with it.

"I'd look at it as an opportunity to go down there and it's all pretty much guys my own age and guys who want to be in the NHL," Larkin said. "We have a great team (in Grand Rapids) who made it far last year (in the AHL playoffs) and it would be a lot of fun."

Pulkkinen returns

Teemu Pulkkinen returned to the lineup Saturday after missing the last four games.

Pulkkinen said he felt pain in his ribs after the Pittsburgh game Sept. 24 – he had two goals and two assists in that game – and was only able to resume skating recently.

"I'm ready," Pulkkinen said. "I've been skating the last three or four days and I'm ready to go right away.

"I don't think it's a big issue that I was out for a week. I'm ready and excited to play."

Pulkkinen is out of minor-league options, so he couldn't be sent back to Grand Rapids without being exposed to waivers (where he'd certainly be clamed by another team).

Pulkkinen will make the final roster, there has never been an issue there, but his three goals and two assists in two games showed he's ready for a regular spot in the lineup.

"For sure I was feeling good the whole time," Pulkkinen said. "I was feeling good and nothing has changed. I feel the same right now and ready to go."

Ice chips

Alexey Marchenkeo (lower body) should be ready to participate in practice Monday, said Blashill.

… Blashill is optimistic Darren Helm (shoulder) could begin practicing early next week. Blashill wants to see Helm in at least two full practices before counting on Helm to play in Friday's regular-season opener.