Walleye to Winged Wheel, Jared Coreau has Arrived

With the loss of Jimmy Howard due to an MCL sprain the Red Wings season looked to be in serious trouble moving forward. Mrazek’s quality of play at the time was lackluster at best, and the performance of the team was falling short of expectation. Many fans and writers of the Red Wings were beginning the call for tanking, with the focus on a particular young man named Nolan Patrick. However, the Red Wings may have gotten the shot in the arm they needed with the call up of Jared Coreau. Instead of just taking the opportunity to gain some NHL experience, it seems that Coreau has stolen the starting spot and reenergized the locker room. With 5 wins and 2 shutouts in 9 starts, Coreau may prove to be the spark needed to turn this team around. When Howard does return though, the Red Wings will have some tough decisions to make. The young netminder wasn’t just handed a free pass to play in Detroit due to Howie’s injury, the opportunity was earned. In order to get his chance in Hockeytown, Coreau began his professional career down in Toledo, Ohio.

After finishing his collegiate career at Northern Michigan University, Coreau’s first stop was with the ECHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, the Toledo Walleye. Coreau first saw action during the 2013-2014 ECHL season, sharing the ice with fellow Wings prospect Martin Frk along with Toledo hockey icons Alden Hirschfeld and Kyle Rogers. However, Jared found himself on a Toledo squad that was in the process of rebuilding. In 21 games played for the Walleye, Coreau managed to win only one game while losing 12 in regulation and 6 in OT or shootout. During those 21 games he allowed 77 goals on 636 shots faced, which in turn gave him a goals allowed average (GAA) of 4.03 and a save percentage (SV%) of 0.879. Coreau saw limited action the following season with Toledo, playing in eight games but tallying 5 wins, 2 regulation losses, and no extra time loses. For that season his GAA dropped to 3.01 while his SV% increased slightly to 0.897. None of these stats are would be considered a reason to call him up, especially to NHL scouts, but you have to remember the team he was playing with at the time. The current Toledo Walleye are leading the ECHL halfway through the season, but at the time of Coreau’s presence the Walleye were a bottom tier team. Toledo only managed to win 21 games in 72 contests throughout the 2013-14 season, so Coreau just did not have the help in front of him at the time. The 2014-15 season had the Walleye make it to the Conference Finals, and the greatly improved team showed in the greater, though limited, success Coreau saw that year. Coreau really came into his own during the 2014-15 season, where he showed his potential not with the Walleye, but with the Grand Rapid Griffins.

Jared Coreau Walleye.jpg

Jared Coreau stops a shot while playing for the Toledo Walleye. Photo Credit to BCSN and The Blade.

The Griffins first welcomed Coreau to the Grand Rapids crease in the 2013-14 season, when Jared started 5 games but didn’t manage to get a win. In those five games he had a GAA of 4.39 and a SV% of .873. The small taste of AHL hockey seemed to be exactly what he needed, because the following year Coreau came back fully prepared to show off his talents. Playing alongside numerous fellow prospects who since become Red Wings; Xavier Oullet, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, and Petr Mrazek to name a few, Coreau played in 25 games for the Griffins. Of those 25 games 16 resulted in wins, 8 loses in regulation and 1 OT loss. Three of the 16 wins came via shutout. Jared also managed to get an assist, along with a regular season GAA of 2.20 and a SV% of 0.927. During the Calder Cup Playoffs he managed to get his first taste of professional playoff hockey as well, though it came via loss in Game 2 of the Conference Quarterfinals. In his second year with Grand Rapids Coreau started the most games of any Griffins netminder with 47 games, and continued to show progress in his development. Coreau adjusted to the increased work load flawlessly, as he went on to win 29 games and earn shutouts in 6 of those wins. A regular season GAA of 2.43 (111 total goals allowed) and a SV% of 0.922 were slightly worse than the previous season, but still great numbers considering it was his first pro season with more than half of his teams starts. Detroit also called Coreau up for the first time during the 2015-16 season: when he served as a backup for three Red Wings games against Dallas, Columbus, and Florida. Coreau did not see ice time in any of those games though. Coreau started the 2016-17 season with Grand Rapids once again, getting 11 wins in 17 starts, until he got the call from the Red Wings once again.

After Jimmy Howard’s injury in Tampa Bay, Coreau got another shot at the NHL. His first start came at Pittsburgh in early Decemeber, but a third period collapse after leading 3-1 let a potential win slip away in disappointing fashion. Coreau rebounded nicely in his next start against Roberto Luongo and his Florida Panthers. The Red Wings and Coreau picked up the win via the shootout, with Jared making 31 saves and stopping two of three shoot out attempts. After playing 9 games for the Wings Coreau has 5 wins (2 shutouts), 1 regulation loss and 1 overtime loss with a GAA and SV% of 3.04 and .901 respectively. However, he has been pulled twice over that span: the first time he was yanked against the Sharks when he allowed three goals on 15 shots, and again last night when the Bruins scored three goals on eight shots in the 1st period. Poor defensive and team efforts were certainly contributing factors in last night’s game, but Coreau is needs to develop a short memory moving forward to reclaim the net from Mrazek. Which I absolutely believe he will. Fellow Winged Octopus writer Lauren Kathleen (@redwingslauren) said it best, “Jared Coreau is our version of Ben Bishop.” Coreau’s massive 6’6” frame chokes up potential shooting lanes, and he has a natural calm that serves him well in the crease. Will he make some mistakes here and there? Yes, as all rookie goaltenders do, but his potential is apparent. In the Centennial Classic Coreau had a fantastic first and second period, though himself and the team had a lapse in the third that allowed Toronto to score four straight goals. Coreau recovered though, and continued to make impressive saves before finally being beat by Auston Matthews’ OT game winner.  That kind of composure in the most monumental game of his career proved to me that Coreau was ready for the NHL, even with the loss! Perhaps the most blaring question he faces is what will happen with Jimmy Howard’s return. There is talk he may be put on the Long Term Injured Reserve, which would point to Mrazek and Coreau taking over for now, but that has yet to be determined by the Red Wings organization.

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Coreau shutting the door on Zach Hyman in the Centennial Classic. Photo credit to Jack Boland, Toronto Sun, and Postmedia Network.

We may be witnessing the beginning of the Coreau Show here in Hockeytown, but it can very easily be cancelled. Even if Howard is placed in LTIR, Coreau has plenty to work on in the net. Personally I think his post to post movement needs more refinement, more speed to it, as well as more work on his mental game. I may have praised him for it earlier, but right now he seems to be susceptible to give up goals in rapid succession. We have to remember that he’s a young netminder with a shaky, injury proned defensive unit in front of him, but he has to continue to take advantage of his opportunity if he wants to stay in Detroit. That means prevent easy follow up goals. A lot of his teammates are guys that he played with on the Griffins, as well as Coach Blashill, so there is certainly a level of comfort with the Red Wings that is helping his game. His youth and desire seem to be having an effect on his team too, as our play has been much more passionate and worthwhile than it was earlier in the year. The Red Wings still have many issues to address and are still out of a playoff spot, but Coreau may be the breath of fresh air needed for this team. If not this year, then Coreau has certainly made a case for his future with the Red Wings. Hopefully we get a renewal of the Coreau Show.

 

 

Feature Image Credit to Ansar Khan and Associated Press:
http://www.mlive.com/redwings/index.ssf/2016/12/red_wings_jared_coreau_prepari.html

Other Image Sources:
http://www.bcsn.tv/news_article/show/449883-walleye-fall-6-3-to-greenville-at-the-huntington-center
http://www.torontosun.com/2017/01/01/coreau-thrilled-to-face-off-against-world-class-matthews-at-centennial-classic

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