There are only a select set of circumstances that would ever see an NHL goaltender have to introduce himself to his head coach just hours before making a start.

Given how turbulent the last six months have been for Calvin Pickard it only stands to reason that it played out that way with Mike Babcock prior to his Toronto Maple Leafs debut on Friday night.

“I’d met him once, but he didn’t remember me,” Pickard said of the pre-game exchange with Babcock. “I remember his face from obviously TV.”

The 25-year-old is seeking to put himself back on the map as an NHL regular and could never have guessed that the next step in his journey would come here at Pepsi Center.

He was caught off-guard when the call arrived Thursday telling him that he’d been recalled from the American Hockey League to replace Curtis McElhinney, the Leafs regular backup who suffered a lower-body injury during the morning skate in Arizona.

There was plenty of time to think during the two flights that brought Pickard down to Denver for a game against the Avalanche, who drafted him 49th overall in 2010 and gave him his first 86 career NHL appearances. He had to work to find his focus through a swirl of emotions and a back-and-forth game.