#34 / Goaltender
Height: 6’1” | Weight: 190 | Born: February 14, 1992
Birthplace: Ostrava, CZE | Acquired: Drafted 141st, 2010 (Detroit)
Assets: Cool as a cucumber under intense pressure, he seems to thrive with the game on the line. Is capable of making incredible saves when down and out, and never quits on a play. His athleticism sets him apart from others.
Flaws: Can be guilty of overplaying shots on occasion. Doesn’t have ideal size for the goaltending position at the National Hockey League level (6-2, 183 pounds), and will need to bulk up in order to maximize his puck-stopping ability.
Career Potential: Talented goaltender with upside.
Why You Should Know Who He Is: There’s always a chance a goaltender takes over a series, and renders outcomes that are improbable based on the play of the collection of skaters in front of him. In 40 games minding the net for the surging Canes, Mrazek posted a career best .914 save percentage and a strong 2.39 GAA. He’s squared off against the Capital ten times in his career, without much luck, putting up a 3-5-2 record in that span, including two losses en route to a Capitals season sweep this season. At fives, Mrazek has been very strong; his .931 5v5 save percentage is good enough for eighth in the League, his 1.88 5v5 GAA is good enough for fifth in the League, and he’s also top ten in high-danger goals saved above average. It’s a good thing the Capitals don’t have a history of opposing western European goalies catching fire in the first round of the playoffs.
How the Caps Can Stop Him: Shoot high glove. Just kidding. For a goaltender, this question is probably best rephrased as “How the Caps Can Prevent Being Stopped By Him”, which is kind of silly. We could feed you platitudes about lateral passes, getting traffic in front of the net, and getting the puck to the net, but those are just eternal truths in hockey, non-specific to Mrazek. The reality is, if the regular season is indicative at all of this postseason, the Caps should expect to see above average play in the opposing net. As good as he’s been at evens, Mrazek has been pedestrian on the penalty-kill. His .824 save percentage at 4v5 is the 4th worst mark in the League among goaltenders who have played over 100 minutes of 4v5 time. The Caps should keep doing what they’re doing to sustain their NHL-best 10% 5v5 shooting percentage. But if they’re unable to do that, taking advantage of premium time on the power play is going to be crucial.