Getting to play in your first NHL game is an honour and a rush, but it's rarely as simple as you'd like it to be. Nerves, finding chemistry and adjusting to competition all come into play for you as you look to settle in to your new hockey home.
Derek Grant made his NHL debut last Saturday with Eric Gryba and Dave Dziurzynski in Toronto before turning around and getting some matinee action in on Monday against the Devils. For Grant, the experience has been a thrill, but now the focus is shifting past the awe and playing his brand of hockey.
"It was exciting. Kind of a dream come true I guess, but going forward it's starting to settle in and hopefully I'll be able to play my game a little bit more," said Grant. "I'm excited to play the first one at home. Going forward I'm just trying to keep it simple and play the way I've been playing all year. "
For fans who didn't have a chance to get a look at Grant while he was playing in Binghamton, you can expect defensively responsible play while he's on the ice — taking care of his own end is a personal focus.
"I think I'm a pretty defensive player. I like to kill penalties and something I've taken pride in this year is penalty killing and my defensive game," said Grant. "Obviously I like to contribute offensively as well so I just try to chip in when I can and get pucks on net."
The 22 year old Abbotsford, B.C., native has enjoyed a solid 2012-13 at both ends of the rink to this point in the American League. With 21 points in 47 games, Grant currently sits sixth in Bingo scoring. He leads the team in goals with 15 goals on just 88 shots.
Obviously Grant couldn't be expected to continue shooting at a 17 percent clip in the NHL, but as he continues to adjust to the level of play at the top flight, expect him to fill in much more naturally with the big club.
Grant knows his game still hasn't caught up to him yet, but it'll come around.
"I think it's been okay, probably a little too much thinking going on out there," said Grant. "It's something you have to simplify and just go out and play. It's just another game. Obviously it's exciting and a little nerve wracking at first. Hopefully I can just settle in and get back to the way it was."
His defensive prowess will be subject to a serious test in game three of his NHL career with the New York Islanders rolling into town. The Isles bring plenty of offensive ability to the rink and Grant expects the Sens to rise to the challenge, even if it means grinding another one out.
"Obviously they're playing pretty well and they have guys like (John) Tavares who tore it up this past week so we just have to play our game and keep battling away," said Grant. "It's never going to be pretty and these ugly ones, we'll take them."
"I think we have a good group in here and we can win a lot of hockey games."