In an emergency start on Wednesday, the Goose was loose for the LA Kings as Troy Grosenick had an outstanding performance in net.
Entering Wednesday night’s rematch against the Anaheim Ducks, the LA Kings were mostly concerned about getting back into the win column. However, shortly before puck drop, they were thrown a curveball when it was announced that goaltender Cal Petersen was being placed in COVID protocol. This, coupled with Jonathan Quick already being day-to-day with an injury, the LA Kings were faced with an unenviable dilemma.
With both Petersen and Quick sidelined, the LA Kings were forced to turn to Troy Grosenick, a 31-year-old veteran who has not played in the NHL since 2014. Yet, despite his NHL layoff, not to mention starting on very short notice, the Brookfield, WI, native was on his game on Wednesday, stopping 33-of-34 shots to help lead the LA Kings to a convincing 5-1 victory against the Ducks.
Following Wednesday’s victory, Grosenick spoke with the media about preparing for tonight’s game and, of course, the victory itself.
As for when, and if, he found out that he was starting, the veteran was direct.
“I actually don’t know if I was ever told, like, for sure,” Grosenick said with a chuckle. “When [goaltender Matt Villalta] was in the locker room across from me when I came to the rink for the game, that was a pretty good sign that it was on me.
“As far as preparation and finding out, honestly, I really don’t think it matters too much for me personally. It just, you know, You know, just take the next shot as it comes, take the next day as it comes and, yeah, that if you’re always, you’re prepared for anything, things don’t take you by surprise as much.”
Whether it’s in the NHL, the AHL, or any league, there will always be some form of nervous energy for a goaltender making his debut or, in Grosenick’s case, his first NHL start in over six years. The netminder was asked how he was able to utilize his energy on Wednesday and use that towards his performance.
“It comes down to my routine,” Grosenick noted. “I do the same thing every game day. When you put in the work and that type of stuff, you know you’re going to kind of have that energy going into the game, and then it’s all about sticking to your routine.”
Grosenick continued, elaborating on said routine.
“For me, there’s, like, a couple breathing techniques and some visualization stuff that allows me to kind of use those to calm nerves. I like to call it energy and just use it in a positive way.”
Upon finding out that he was starting, Grosenick didn’t make too big of a deal when telling others. In fact, the communication was limited to text messages and a few close family members.
“I told my wife, my parents, and my brother,” the veteran netminder said. “I kept it pretty quiet, though. Just some texts.”
Following Wednesday’s victory, the LA Kings head coach spoke about his netminder.
“Well, when we signed him in the summer, we were excited about having him,” McLellan noted. “I was lucky enough to spend some time with him in San Jose. [He’s] got a lot of character, and he just wanted an opportunity maybe to get a game in here or there. Tonight, it presented itself, and he took advantage of it. So, really good for him that– the guys played hard for him. I think it was a bit of a motivating factor for our team to get off to a better start. He made a save fairly early in the game, then made a pass out from behind the net, made a save there, and then, after that, he just settled in. So, it was good to see and certainly not easy circumstances for as little as he’s played this season with all his traveling quarantine, but good for him.”
Since the 2020-21 season began, Troy Grosenick has been on a bit of a rough road, both figurately and literally.
After being with the LA Kings for their season-opener in January, the 31-year-old was claimed off waivers by the Edmonton Oilers. So, the netminder made the 26-hour drive from the City of Angels to the Albertan capital only to drive the same distance all the way back on Feb. 6 when the LA Kings re-claimed him on waivers.
This isn’t even mentioning the mandatory quarantine the netminder had to endure due to COVID-19. Many would be at their wit’s end with this type of journey, but Grosenick was resilient and, if Wednesday night’s performance was any indication, it paid off.
Making a few key saves early, Grosenick helped the LA Kings preserve a one-goal lead for much of the evening. His teammates gave him plenty of breathing room in the third, though, and, when all was said and done, the veteran earned his first NHL victory since 2014, making 33 saves en route.
The gap between NHL victories for Grosenick is six years and 112 days, the seventh-longest span in league history. But, the goaltender was part of even more history on this night.
With Matt Villalta as his backup, Wednesday night marked the first time in over 15 years when neither LA Kings goalie dressed for a game had played for the club before. The last time was on Oct. 5, 2005, when Jason LaBarbera and Mathieu Garon suited up for the LA Kings in Dallas, losing 5-4.
Also, en route to the victory, Andreas Athanasiou scored his second goal in as many games, and Adrian Kempe continues his own hot streak. He scored two goals, making that five in his last two games and six in his last three.
As for Troy Grosenick, he was brought to Los Angeles — and re-acquired — to provide some relief for Jonathan Quick and Cal Petersen, to provide support when one, or both, netminders were unavailable. This was Grosenick’s opportunity, and he made the most of it.
It is too early to tell if Quick will be available next game, but if not, you can bet that Troy Grosenick will be ready and rearing to go once again.