(Las Vegas) Timing is everything, especially for an NHL goaltender.
Laurent Brossoit has spent the majority of the season away from the NHL, but the 30-year-old goaltender is now a playoff starter for the first time in his career.
The Golden Knights goalie carousel, which used five different starters, stopped on Brossoit because he was healthy and playing well late in the season.
“It’s been a crazy year,” Brossoit said Friday.
Brossoit led the Golden Knights to the second round of the playoffs and they hold a 1-0 lead over the Edmonton Oilers.
“I always knew I had the skills to be a starter. That it happens this year, that I have this opportunity this year, it was impossible to predict, said Brossoit. I thought I would have at least one chance. I was confident that I was going to grab it. »
Brossoit and the Golden Knights will look for a sixth straight playoff win when they host the Oilers on Saturday before traveling to a place the goaltender knows well.
He spent his junior career with the Edmonton Oil Kings. They won the West League title in 2012 and reached the final in 2013.
Brossoit was drafted by the Calgary Flames, but made his NHL debut with the Oilers. He played 28 games with the team before spending three seasons with the Winnipeg Jets.
The Golden Knights defeated the Jets in five games in the first round of the playoffs, so the story continues between Brossoit and his former teammates.
Games 3 and 4 are Monday and Wednesday in Edmonton.
After undergoing hip surgery last July, Brossoit spent the majority of the season in the American Hockey League with the Henderson Silver Knights.
The Golden Knights acquired goaltender Adin Hill in August to pair with Logan Thompson. They also acquired two-time Stanley Cup champion Jonathan Quick at the trade deadline.
Lower-body injuries to Hill and Thompson opened the door for Brossoit to get a string of starts towards the end of the campaign. The Golden Knights went 5-0-1 when he was in goal.
“It was between Jonathan and Laurent,” said head coach Bruce Cassidy. Laurent was simply a little further ahead at the end of the season. »
Brossoit now sees his surgery as one step back to take two steps forward.
“The surgery really helped propel me forward,” he said. I am now able to work on things and my potential is more easily accessible. When you have an operation, you never know. There’s a side of you that wonders if you’ll stay the same and the other wonders if you’ll get better. »
Brossoit played the last half of a playoff game with the Oilers against the San Jose Sharks in 2017.
His Oilers counterpart, Stuart Skinner, meanwhile made his playoff debut this year.
A subplot of the Oilers-Golden Knights series is how goalies with no playoff experience will handle pressure. And also how Brossoit will handle players like Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.
Cassidy insisted that the NHL’s best goalies, such as Andrei Vasilevskiy with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Linus Ullmark with the Boston Bruins, and Igor Shesterkin with the New York Rangers, have been eliminated in the first round.
“Maybe this is the year. You look at some of the guards, like the one with the New Jersey Devils. I don’t know his story, but he carried his team into the second round, Cassidy said. You now have Brush, Skinner. This may be the year in which a lesser-known keeper will carry his team to the top honours. We hope that is the case. »