Montreal, Quebec — Jimmy Howard started Monday against the Sabres.
Petr Mrazek was in net Tuesday against the Canadiens.
And starting the final five critical games?
If coach Jeff Blashill had a plan or idea of who was going to start, he wasn’t sharing it Tuesday in Montreal.
“We can map out anything we want but the biggest thing is we’ll look at each game,” the Red Wings coach said. “We’ll review our personnel whether it’s the forwards or defense or goaltenders and we’ll make the decision as to who gives the best chance to win that night.
“The biggest thing is we’re trying to win a hockey game.”
Playing the back end of back-to-back games Tuesday, Blashill felt it was a natural decision to go with Mrazek after Howard played — and won — Monday.
“If you can go with two goalies you’re better off in most situations,” Blashill said. “We have said all year we think a strength of our team can be our goaltending.”
Mrazek had a stranglehold on the starting job for most of the past three months, but a recent slump raised red flags. He is 6-6-2 with a 3.30 goals-against average and .888 save percentage his last 15 games.
He also was pulled four times during that span.
But, Blashill has seen enough of Mrazek — in Grand Rapids and Detroit — to have confidence he can overcome the slump.
“I’ve been with him a long time and repeatedly he’s done a good job of coming back from tough situations and playing well,” Blashill said. “I believe he’s got the skills and he’s put the work in with (goaltending coach) Jimmy Bedard to come out and have a real good game.”
For his part, Mrazek was looking forward to playing in pressure-packed games down the stretch.
“It’s always fun when you play for something,” Mrazek said. “You want to bring the two points home tonight.”
Mrazek also is banking on last season’s late-season run when his play helped the Red Wings clinch a playoff spot the final days of the season.
Then-coach Mike Babcock used Mrazek throughout the first-round playoff series against the Lightning, whjich the Red Wings lost in seven games.
“It’s going to help when you look back in the end (last season),” Mrazek said. “I learned a lot from there.”
Mrazek has missed single games to a groin injury and the flu the last month, but refuses to put any of his recent inconsistencies on those issues.
“Sometimes goalies have games like that (last weekend’s 7-2 loss to the Penguins in which he was pulled in the second period), but you just keep going and do your best,” Mrazek said. “Every game is different and you have to battle through it.”