The New York Rangers decided to go with backup goaltender Cam Talbot in their return from the Olympic break. It was a well deserved night off for Henrik Lundqvist, who had just backstopped the Sweden national team to a silver medal in Sochi. But it shows the confidence the Rangers have developed with the rookie, Talbot, especially since they were facing a Chicago Blackhawks team that was tied for second in the NHL with 84 points.
Talbot responded in a big way. He turned aside 31 of the 32 shots the Blackhawks threw his way, only allowing in the one tally in the final minute of the game.
But this isn’t anything new for the Ontario native. This season he is sporting a 1.79 GAA and a .935 save percentage.
No one could’ve expected that kind of production when Talbot was called up to replace the struggling Marty Biron. Biron has been the backup the last three seasons, including the 2011-12 season that saw the Rangers nab the top seed in the East. His struggles to start the season led to a glaring hole.
It’s no secret the Rangers have been a team predicated on defense and strong goaltending — that’s probably always going to be the case when you have a Vezina winner in net. But to be serious cup contenders they need to get Henk rest in the regular season to keep him refreshed for a postseason run. Talbot has given them that piece of mind.
What could’ve been a weakness for the Rangers, has turned into a strength. With the stellar numbers Talbot has put up, his reputation has been growing around the league. The Rangers’ goalie depth just might be the envy of the league.