There is a New York Ranger goaltender who has won six of the last seven games he has played in, and his name is not Henrik Lundqvist. It’s Cam Talbot. The rookie goaltender has played phenomenally for New York ever since he’s been called up from the AHL after Martin Biron announced his retirement. I have to say that I was a bit skeptical, as were many Ranger fans, when the Rangers decided to call up a rookie with no NHL experience. The team was struggling, Lundqivst went down with an injury and Talbot needed to step in and play big games. Talbot, however, has surprised many people, including me, and has proven not only that he can play in the NHL, but he can play pretty well. Despite losing to the Winnipeg Jets Monday, 5-2, Talbot has played tremendously up to this point.
In his first ever NHL game, Talbot lost to the Flyers, but played very well. He saved 25 of the 27 shots he faced and gave the Rangers a great chance to win the game. He, like many Ranger goaltenders, need to step up his game to near perfect levels when the team was unable to score at least twice, a recurring trend. In his next game, he defeated a very good Detroit Red Wings team 3-2 in overtime, saving 32 of 34 shots. Once again, Talbot kept the Rangers in the game with good goaltending, allowing them to pick up a much needed win.
Now, this could have been a newcomer high for the rookie out of Canada, and Talbot could have just as easily fizzled out after his first two games. But, that has not happened. In the five starts since his first two games, Talbot has not given up more than two goals. In fact, in games against the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators, Talbot recorded back to back shutouts, the first two of his career. The most impressive of these was his 1-0 win on the road in Montreal, a place where the Rangers have a very difficult time playing. This was the first time the Rangers defeated the Canadiens in Montreal since 2009, and the first shutout by a Ranger goaltender in Montreal since Ed Giacomin in February of 1967. Talbot was able to defeat the ghosts that plagued the Rangers in Montreal against the Canadiens. Perhaps it was his Ghostbusters themed goalie mask that has captivated Ranger fans and led him to be called the “Goalbuster.”
Talbot’s career numbers are a 6-2-0 record, giving him nearly half of the Ranger wins this season, with a 1.79 goals against average and a .934 save percentage. His cool and composed demeanor between the pipes and his ability to make clutch saves have given him a great start to his NHL career, and potentially salvaged the Rangers’ season early on. The Rangers were struggling mightily before Talbot came up. Lundqvist was hurt and Biron retired; they needed to right the ship, which meant having a goalie who would be able to play well enough to give them a chance to get at least a point. Talbot has certainly gone above and beyond the call of duty thus far, and has also given the Rangers confidence in playing him in games where Lundqvist might need a rest.
If the Rangers are to have success this year, their goaltending is going to need to be stellar. Lundqvist will most likely continue to play well, but Talbot is also going to need to play well. Thus far he has lived up to the task, and if he continues to play well, the Rangers will find themselves doing very well this year and Talbot might get a chance at winning the Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year in the league. Many might see his game against Winnipeg Monday as a step backward and Talbot coming back down to reality, but every goaltender has a bad game now and again; Talbot is certainly no exception. I think this game will allow him to learn how to deal with a loss and a poor game at the NHL level so that he will be even better prepared for the next game and perform better.