The Carolina Hurricanes lead a tight Central Division with a 6-0-1 record, but now have a potentially major issue with the loss of goalie Petr Mrazek, who is out after surgery on his right thumb. The timeline for his return has yet to be determined.
Coach Rod Brind’Amour had the feeling the injury would be something long term and it’s definitely a big blow to the team. With so many games in a shorter period of time, the importance of two top goalies is more important than ever.
Mrazek has a 2-1-0 record in four games, leading the league with a 0.99 goals against average, save percentage (.955) and shutouts. James Reimer, who has a 4-0 record with a 2.19 goals against average, will be the top goalie for the foreseeable future.
The backup now becomes Alex Nedeljkovic, a 25-year-old with a 2-2-1recor in six NHL games. His goals against is a solid 2.55, but one must question has lack of NHL experience over his eight years as a professional. Forward Jodan Martinook says the team is confident in both goalies, although they obviously want Mrazak back as soon as possible.
Brind’Amour has tremendous confidence in Nedeljkovic, despite having limited work in NHL action. However, he’s certainly proven his ability at the AHL level and believes he’ll make the most of this chance.
For the sake of the Hurricanes moving forward in a competition division, they will need everyone to pick up the slack, particularly on the defensive end with an inexperience man in net. If they do so, when Mrazek returns, the Hurricanes could be extremely difficult to beat.