Devils prospect MacKenzie Blackwood was standing in net for the Albany Devils during the AHL playoffs in April.

Seven months earlier, he never imagined he would end up there so soon.

Blackwood entered his first season as a pro in 2016-17 aiming to make the transition to the AHL while continuing to develop his game behind fellow goalie Scott Wedgewood and Ken Appleby.

But Wedgewood went down with an early shoulder injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season, and Blackwood saw immediate action.

"There were some growing pains there to start," Blackwood told NJ Advance Media. "(Appleby) had played a few games before in Adirondack. He jumped right in and had a great start. Myself, I had a couple painful games, some learning adjustments and stuff like that. But I think I found my groove after Christmas."

Despite that rough start where Blackwood's goals against average hovered above 3.00 for a stretch, he settled into his role and ended up posting a 2.55 GAA and .907 save percentage over 36 regular season games in Albany.

The GAA was lower than his final junior season in 2015-16, but Blackwood needed to experience the differences at the AHL level first hand to make his adjustments.