COLUMBUS, OH -- This isn't Danny Taylor's first foray into the NHL but he admits the emotions surrounding his signing with the Flames - and subsequent call-up - feels entirely different than his first go-round in The Show.
"It's been a long journey," he said on Wednesday evening. "I think from the last time I came to the NHL to now, I'm kind of a different person. I'm married now, I have a child and I'm more of a family guy than the young guy that came out of junior so to speak. I definitely appreciate the opportunity that's been given."
Taylor, as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, played the last period of a game against the Dallas Stars on Mar. 29, 2008. The Kings were down 5-1 through the opening 40 minutes and during coach Marc Crawford's intermission speech, he threw out that Taylor would play in the final frame.
Gobsmacked, Taylor looked at the players beside him to make sure he heard the coach correctly. After being assured that, yes, he would get his first taste of NHL action, he headed out to the ice to see if he could stem the tide for his team. He ended facing 10 shots, stopping of eight of them.
"I just remember being in awe, kind of like you're in a movie," he said of the experience. "You're seeing it but you're not really into it. I think coming back into it right now, I really know what to expect.
"My game has really come a long way as far as my mental side, my mental preparation. I think if my number is called again, I'll definitely be a lot more ready than I was before."
That opportunity may present itself in the near future, depending on how the Miikka Kiprusoff situation shakes out. The Finn is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury but the team does not have a timeline on his return.
If he is indeed called to action, Taylor feels much more confident in his game than he did five years ago. He joined the Abbotsford Heat last season and over the past two years, he has worked extensively with the coaching staff in simplifying his game both on and off the ice.
He has adjusted his mental preparation and he has refined his technique since signing with the Heat and those alterations will be crucial if he does suit up for the Flames.
"I'm just trying to take every moment as it comes and try to go about my business the way I did in Abbotsford; just do the job I came here to do.
"I really have to go out and do my thing and be in the moment as best as I can."
Another thing boosting his confidence is his support back home. The new dad will have plenty of family members, friends and former teammates cheering him on. In fact, his wife's excitement over this opportunity may overshadow his own.
The pair were watching the game against Detroit on Tuesday night and when his agent called to let him know Kiprusoff had left the game with a lower body injury and the Flames brass may be calling soon. Her elation over the prospect of her husband getting that call was through the roof.
"She was going off the rocker there with excitement (over) the possibility of going up again. It was a great night and really exciting at the home-front, that's for sure."
He also has the support of his good friend, Leland Irving. The pair have spent parts of the last two seasons in Abbotsford together and have grown close. To be able to go through this experience with Irving makes it even more special for Taylor.
"Leland and I are great friends. Leland's a great goalie. He's proved it in the past, in the American League and in the NHL. Our job is to stop the puck, to win the game. It doesn't matter if it's me or Irv. We've got to get it done."
Taylor will back Irving up on Thursday night when the Flames square off against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
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