New York Rangers goaltender Cam Talbot took over the backup role as a result of the waiving and subsequent retirement of Martin Biron. After three games and two victories, Talbot is proving he can handle the role of Henrik Lundqvist’s understudy.
No one is calling him the heir apparent to Lundqvist, or the second coming of Patrick Roy. The Rangers need a goaltender reliable enough to start at least 20 games this season. During preseason, coach Alain Vigneault made this a priority. The reasoning behind it is that not only is this an Olympic year, but pressure needs to be eased off of Lundqvist, who in recent years has started close to 70 games per season. So far, Talbot has rewarded his coaches’ faith, posting critical road victories against the Detroit Red Wings and the rival New York Islanders.
Talbot is a 26-year-old undrafted free agent from the University of Alabama, Huntsville. UAH is not exactly a hockey hotbed, but it appears the Rangers found themselves a keeper from there. In his first three games, Talbot is 2-1 with a 1.96 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. His training camp was so impressive that Vigneault gave up on Biron after one bad performance. The most important aspect of Talbot’s game has been his poise, especially in pressure situations. Furthermore, he has displayed the ability to make Lundqvist-like spectacular saves.
Rangers’ players, coaches and fans should feel confident that Talbot can adequately start 30 percent of the team’s games. Time will tell if he starts critical games later this season. For now, Talbot is here to stay, and deservedly so.