EDMONTON — Laurent Brossoit’s nickname is “L.B.,” and as of Thursday morning the weight was squarely on the backup goalie’s shoulders, when the Edmonton Oilers put Cam Talbot on injured reserve with an undisclosed upper body injury.
“In Detroit he tweaked something up top, and we didn’t think anything of it,” said Oilers head coach Todd McLellan. “Obviously he’s on I.R. now, and we don’t think he’ll be available for at least two weeks, and it could be longer.”
Cue Brossoit, who gets thrust into the brightest possible spotlight Thursday night with Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs in town. It will be Brossoit’s fourth start of the 2017-18 season, and the just the 14th of his young NHL career.
“I feel great,” he said after the morning skate. “You never want to see a teammate go down, but in my position as a backup you’re looking for opportunity. I just want to build on that.”
There is never a good time for your No. 1 goalie to go down with an injury, but the change does greet both goalies at a pretty good time in their season.
Talbot had begun to right his game, but still sports a miserable save percentage of .903. He’s been the busiest goaltender in the NHL dating back to the beginning of last season, and could perhaps use a couple of weeks to refresh, watch some film, and recapture his game.
Meanwhile, Brossoit is coming off two excellent starts. He allowed two goals in a 3-1 loss at Buffalo this past Friday, and was excellent in a 2-1 shootout loss at Washington on Nov 12.
“We believe in L.B., and he’s given us some really, really strong performances this year,” said centre Leon Draisaitl, who added the Oilers won’t change their game with the backup taking the reins for a couple of weeks. “There’s nothing to change. He’s an NHL goalie. We’re not going to change anything.”
“Well, I know I’m not going to walk into the locker room and create a situation that may not exist by telling the team, ‘Hey we’ve got to protect this guy.’ He’s a very capable goaltender,” the coach said. “We’ll try and provide him with offensive support and defensive support. Same as we try to do for Cam.”
Talbot led the NHL in starts (73), shots faced (2,117) and minutes played (4,294) last season. And with the Oilers’ playoff chances already diminished, the opportunities to toss Brossoit a few more starts weren’t as available as the team had planned at the start of the season.
But the job is Brossoit’s Thursday against Toronto, Saturday in Calgary, and four days later when Philadelphia comes to town — at least. He’s looking forward to his opportunity, and even admits to being a tad nervous.
“It’s the NHL, it’s always going to be intimidating,” said Brossoit, 24. “I don’t think there are many guys in the league who don’t get nervous before games. It’s dealing with the nerves, and learning how to deal with that is the big thing I think I’ve learned to manage now.”
Nick Ellis was called up from Bakersfield to backup up Brossoit. The former Providence college goaler has yet to log his first minute in the NHL.