MONTREAL — Apparently trade deadline deals are completely overrated.
After all, the Flyers made their one significant move a week ago when general manager Ron Hextall rescued Petr Mrazek out of Detroit.
Monday night, Mrazek returned the favor and bailed out his teammates with a sensational 28-save performance, and then followed that up by stopping five of six in the shootout to stifle the Canadiens, 1-0, at the Bell Centre in Montreal (see observations).
The Flyers may have also discovered their shootout netminder in the process as Mrazek has won his last eight shootouts dating back to the 2016-17 season with Detroit.
“It’s for the fans,” Mrazek said. “They have some fun for the players and the goalies. It’s hard to say. I like to challenge the guy and go 1-on-1. I feel like it’s flipping a coin for who’s going to win.”
Right now, Mrazek is calling heads and the coin is landing in his favor. He’s won his first three starts to begin his Flyers career and now owns four shutouts in 18 starts this season.
Apparently Mrazek embraces all things new. A new situation, new teammates, a new coaching staff, and against the Canadiens, Mrazek played with new pads for the first time.
“I had them [Sunday]. I like new stuff and new gear when I have it on and finally I got the color I wanted,” Mrazek said. “After the game in Ottawa, the second goal I let in, we worked a little bit with the goalie coach (Kim Dillabaugh) and talked about it a little bit. Sunday in practice we’re focusing on stuff like that, so I was going to work on that and bring it into the game today.”
Mrazek’s course of correction may have been his angle and positioning in relation to the near side post where the Senators were able to beat him for a couple of goals on Saturday. However, the Canadiens had no success and if Mrazek wasn’t in perfect position, he flashed the glove on several highlight-reel saves.
“It was unbelievable seeing Mrazek stand on his head like that,” Travis Konecny said. “It’s not surprising, we’ve all played against him, but some of the saves he made were unbelievable and same at the other end. It was definitely a challenging game and makes it a lot of fun.”
While the Canadiens had no answer for Mrazek, the Flyers were also flummoxed trying to solve 24-year-old rookie Charlie Lindgren at the other end. The Flyers came up empty in their 33 shots in regulation and overtime, but Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier were both able to convert in the shootout.
“I saw Jake go lefty. We had a lot of righties go, so it was different,” Couturier, who converted the game-winner, said. “I saw Jakey seemed to have a lot of room. He even told me before I went, 'It’s open. Maybe fake him out glove side, go low blocker,' and I just listened to him.”
Couturier had quite the cheering section he was looking to impress, as well, with a large group that came to Montreal to watch him play.
“I had a few family and friends and a lot of people from back home,” Couturier said. “I think they had a big bus come down for the weekend, probably 25 people from my hometown, so it was nice to get that support.”
And with that, Couturier and the Flyers rose to the top of the Metropolitan Division for the first time since October (see standings).
They may not have the marquee player like the Boston Bruins and the Tampa Bay Lightning, but the Flyers have this indescribable confidence and chemistry.
And on deadline day, those are things you can’t trade for, either.