Magical Mrazek: Blackhawks netminder continues solid stretch by fending off flurry of shots
Maybe it's just a coincidence, but Blackhawks goalie Petr Mrazek almost always steps up his game after a wretched performance.
Not that he realizes it.
"I don't know where you guys get those stats," Mrazek said after stopping 30 shots in a 4-3 victory over Buffalo at the United Center last week. "I have no idea. I have never thought about it."
Let's provide some proof for the 30-year-old netminder:
• While on the Hurricanes, Mrazek gave up 6 goals in a loss to St. Louis on Feb. 4, 2020. In the next three games he went 2-1-0 and stopped 96 of 102 shots.
• The previous season Mrazek yielded 5 goals in a loss to Montreal, then proceeded to shut out Arizona to begin a 5-3-0 stretch where he gave up 20 goals.
• The year before, Mrazek was lit up during a 7-6 OT loss to the Islanders, then gave up just 8 goals while going 4-1-0 for Detroit and Philadelphia (yes, he was traded during this stretch).
• The most recent example of Mrazek's bounce-back ability came during the last four games. After giving up 4 goals on 5 shots to Seattle in that embarrassing 8-5 loss at the UC, Mrazek has stopped 135 of 145 shots (.931) while posting a 2.52 goals-against average. He truly stood on his head during the Hawks' 5-2 loss at Vancouver on Tuesday, stopping 37 of the Canucks' first 39 shots.
"If it wasn't for Mrazek, it could have really got out of hand," said Hawks D-man Seth Jones.
When the March 3 trade deadline nears, it would hardly be surprising for a fringe playoff team -- or one that suffers an injury to a No. 1 or 2 goaltender -- to make an offer for Mrazek. He has appeared in 29 playoff games, including 11 for Carolina in 2019 when the Hurricanes advanced to the Eastern Conference finals.
Mrazek's season stats (.888, 3.89) rank near the bottom of the league, but some of that has to do with the defense in front of him. He's 12-15 in the postseason with a solid 2.43 GAA.
Fun with numbers:
The Blackhawks managed just 14 shots on goal against Vancouver on Tuesday. That's their fewest since they took 14 at Calgary on Nov. 22, 2007.
The last time the Hawks fell below that number was more than two decades ago when they took 13 at Los Angeles on November 30, 2002.
The franchise record for fewest SOG in a game is 11. It's been done six times, with five coming between 1998-2002. One result was actually a 1-1 tie vs. the Blues on March 26, 2000. Tony Amonte scored his 39th goal of the season just 1:49 into the game.
Fun with numbers II:
The Hawks were outshot 48-14 vs. Vancouver -- a 34-shot difference. Vancouver, playing its first game under new coach Rich Tocchet, had 15 shots after just 11 minutes. The Canucks fired Bruce Boudreau on Sunday.
"We knew they were going to come out really hard -- new coach and everything -- so I thought we weathered it for a bit and had some pushback, just not quite enough in the third," Hawks forward Sam Lafferty said. "There's a lot of excitement and everyone wants to prove themselves, so they obviously dictated the play for most of it."
The last time the Hawks were outshot by a wider margin came during a 3-2 shootout victory over the Red Wings on April 5, 2007. Detroit took 58 shots to the Hawks' 21.
Somehow, the Hawks prevailed thanks to goals by Nikita Alexeev and Bryan Bickell. Patrick Sharp provided the game-winner in the shootout. Nikolai Khabibulin made 56 saves, only 3 off the franchise record, which was set by Al Rollins at Boston on December 13, 1956.
The only other time this century the Hawks have been outshot by 30 or more came when Nashville took 51 attempts to the Hawks' 20 during a 3-0 Predators victory on October 29, 2019.
Amid all the gloom-and-doom stats from Tuesday there was this positive note for the Hawks: Forward Sam Lafferty scored his seventh goal to establish a career high. Lafferty scored by cutting to the middle of the offensive zone and snapping off a wrist shot at 12:06 of the second period.
Lafferty, acquired by GM Kyle Davidson last season for Alex Nylander, also impressed during the Hawks' 5-3 victory over St. Louis on Saturday. The 27-year-old set up Jason Dickinson with a perfect pass to open the scoring midway through the first period and then scored short-handed less than three minutes later.
"Every team would love that speed," coach Luke Richardson said Sunday. "But not only his speed ... (but) he was feisty. He was in people's faces (and) he wasn't backing down from anybody.
"It becomes contagious on a team."
The Hawks continue their three-game road trip at Calgary on Thursday. The Flames are coming off an emotional 4-3 OT victory against former teammate Johnny Gaudreau and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Calgary fired a season-high 49 shots on goal and yielded just 25.
On Jan. 8 at the United Center, the Hawks defeated Calgary 4-3 in overtime on Max Domi's game-winner off a pass from Lukas Reichel. The Hawks were outshot 47-25.