Petr Mrazek’s Road to Becoming the Carolina Hurricanes #1

RALEIGH, NC - OCTOBER 29: Petr Mrazek #34 of the Carolina Hurricanes enters the ice during warmups with teammates Dougie Hamilton #19 and Sebastian Aho #20 prior to an NHL game against the Calgary Flames on October 29, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NC - OCTOBER 29: Petr Mrazek #34 of the Carolina Hurricanes enters the ice during warmups with teammates Dougie Hamilton #19 and Sebastian Aho #20 prior to an NHL game against the Calgary Flames on October 29, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
4 of 4
Next
Goaltender Petr Mrazek of the Carolina Hurricanes
RALEIGH, NC – OCTOBER 3: Petr Mrazek #34 of the Carolina Hurricanes celebrates a victory over the Montreal Canadiens during an NHL game on October 3, 2019 at PNC Arena in Raleigh North Carolina. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Carolina Hurricanes

After a 2017-18 season that was derailed by goaltending, the Carolina Hurricanes were ready for a change.  Franchise mainstay Cam Ward was no re-signed, leading the veteran to sign a one-year pact with the Chicago Blackhawks.  Scott Darling, who had dedicated the offseason to training, was gearing up for a comeback.  GM Don Waddell‘s task was to find a suitable platoon mate who would be able to perform.

It was a perfect coalescence.  Mrazek signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract which gave him the opportunity to prove himself.  Waddell got an affordable goalie on a low-risk contract.  A preseason injury to Darling led to McElhinney being claimed from the waiver wire, setting what would be the Hurricanes’ tandem for the year.

Unlike years past, this duo not only performed well but seemed to push each other.  By season’s end, the pair had combined for 43 wins and 6 shutouts while helping lead the Hurricanes back into the postseason for the first time in a decade.

The playoffs were a bit of a mixed bag for Mrazek, including a shutout that opened the door for McElhinney to man the crease.  Ultimately, the Hurricanes were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals but, after years of mediocrity, the fans had genuine reason to hope.  The fiery Czech goaltender played a very large role in that.

More from Cardiac Cane

Now, with McElhinney gone and James Reimer filling his spot, Mrazek’s play has established him as the number one early on.  His play hasn’t been flawless but he has given his team a chance on most nights.

Mrazek and his teammates now face the heightened expectations that last season’s success created.  Anything short of another strong postseason showing will largely be viewed as a letdown and, as of now, it’s Mrazek’s job to lead them there.

Regular season:

  • 18-19: 40; 23-14-3; 2.39; .914; 4
  • 19-20*: 12; 8-3-1; 2.51; .907; 2
    • *through 11/13/19

Playoffs:

  • 18-19: 11; 5-5-0; 2.73; .894; 2

There’s still work to be done and, so far, Reimer hasn’t pushed Mrazek the way that McElhinney did last season.  The good is that Mrazek has been up to the task thus far.  The bad is that the Hurricanes are going to need a dependable backup.  Reimer has talent but has struggled at times this year, leaving more pressure on Mrazek’s shoulders.

The one, undeniable fact is that the Hurricanes will go as far as Mrazek can carry them.

Next. The Missing Intangibles of Justin Williams. dark

Do you think the constant push that McElhinney provided last season will be missed by Mrazek through the course of the season?  Will Petr Mrazek develop Cam Ward syndrome, being overused because of an unreliable backup?