LOS ANGELES, CA -- With a large, physically-imposing LA Kings team on tonight's schedule, Calgary Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan has opted to beef up his blueline.
Enter 6-foot-4, 230-pound rearguard Nicklas Grossmann.
"We talked about this for awhile here. It's just a real big, heavy team and it's a little bit like when we put Grossy in in St. Louis and we won 4-1 there," Gulutzan explained. "We're putting him in a game where this is a big, strong team and we want a little weight in the back-end to get some of the bigger bodies to the wall, give us a little presence back there. It's good to bring in a veteran guy in these types of games."
Grossmann will take over for Jyrki Jokipakka, who will sit as a healthy scratch.
Tonight's contest will be Grossmann's first game since Oct. 25, when he logged 13:21 of ice time in the aforementioned 4-1 win over the Blues in St. Louis. Since then, he has been working diligently to ensure he's ready to go when he's called upon.
"I've been working hard so it's nice to get the opportunity," he said. "It's going to be a heavy game and I'm excited."
He believes a game against a team like the Kings fits perfectly with his style of play and he's eager to get going this evening at the Staples Center.
"I think overall, playing them over the years, they always play the same way. They play disciplined, hard. Don't make a lot of mistakes. There's not going to be a lot of scoring chances. It's almost like a chess game out there. If you can put your pieces in the right spot at the right time and stick with the game plan, I think that's the way you've got to go at it.
"It's fun. They always play a physical, hard-nosed game. There's always a lot of banging out there. It fits me perfect. Over the years, it's been a lot of fun games against these guys."
Over the last month, Grossmann has witnessed the Flames' evolution under Gulutzan and has watched the team make strides. He has been particularly impressed with his team over the last handful of games, noting how players have become more comfortable with the new system Gulutzan has implemented.
"I think it takes a little while - new personnel, new players. It's not going to work overnight. Guys are starting understand the message he wants to bring to the group. I think you can tell in the way we're playing. We're slowly getting the right idea out there. There's still a lot of work to do but it's fun to see, guys are really picking it up. I think if we play the way he wants, we'll be successful."
The Flames signed the veteran blueliner to a one-year deal in early October after he spent training camp with the team on a professional tryout agreement. He has played in 591 NHL games in his career, scoring 13 goals and 86 points.