San Jose Barracuda goaltender Troy Grosenick bounced back in a big way in the Pacific Division Finals against the San Diego Gulls. In five games, the 27-year-old allowed just 10 goals on his way to a .933 save percentage.
The Baz Bastien Award winner saved his best in the series for last in Game 5 last night, stopping all 34 shots he faced as the Barracuda advanced to the Western Conference Finals, a first for a Sharks AHL affiliate.
It was the kind of performance San Jose had come to expect from the goaltender this season, but not one they saw in the first round against Stockton. The Barracuda needed all five games of their first round series to extinguish the Heat, in part because of Grosenick’s struggles.
Grosenick’s .907 save percentage against Stockton was enough to ensure that the Barracuda advanced, albeit barely. But with Grosenick back in regular season form, San Jose rolled through San Diego in five games.
San Jose benefited from a resurgent power play, too, as they scored seven goals with the man advantage in the second round after scoring just one against Stockton. Ryan Carpenter continued to lead the Barracuda offensively, expanding his postseason scoring lead to three points.
Yet Grosenick just may be the most crucial Calder Cup component of all for the Barracuda. After all, no goaltender accumulated more shutouts, and only one stopped a higher percentage of shots or won more games than Grosenick.
He also provides the Barracuda with a significant edge in the crease over the Grand Rapids Griffins, their Western Conference Finals opponent. Jared Coreau’s taken the reins for the Detroit Red Wings’ AHL affiliate this postseason, and has posted a .908 save percentage in eight starts, second-worst among AHL goaltenders whose teams are still alive and 14th among the 20 that have played in at least two playoff games.
San Jose will need that edge against Grand Rapids’ high-octane offense. Seven different Griffins have scored at least eight points this postseason, and all seven of them sit in the top 20 in scoring, easily the most of any team.
Luckily for San Jose, Grosenick’s had a lot of success against Grand Rapids this season, stopping 65 of 66 shots (.985 save percentage) in two games against the Griffins. But, the last game, a Grosenick shutout, was just over two months ago.
The Griffins have lost just once this postseason, have arguably been the AHL’s best team in the Calder Cup playoffs, and present the Barracuda’s biggest challenge this postseason. If Grosenick’s last six games, including a 27-save performance in an elimination game against Stockton in the first round, are any indication?
Then Grosenick and the Barracuda will be up for it.