Cam Talbot: Kid Sensation
When the season began for Cam Talbot, the 26 year old Canadian goaltender was in the American Hockey League as a member of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the New York Rangers’ affiliate.
He played 116 games with the Wolf Pack dating back to the 2009-2010 season, and he posted a 54-52-5 record and eight shutouts in 116 games. In five games this season, he went 4-0-1 with a 2.49 goals against average and a .924 save percentage. He probably wouldn’t have thought, unless there was an injury to either Henrik Lundqvist or Martin Biron during the season, that he would find himself as a member of the New York Rangers this year. Talbot, however, was in for a surprise.
After five games this season, the Rangers sent Biron down to the AHL after they got off to a 1-4 start to the season. This led to Biron announcing his retirement from hockey, and the Rangers promoting Talbot to being the backup for Lundqvist. The Rangers probably did not want to throw Talbot into high pressure situations as soon as he was called up, but within two games of being in the NHL, Lundqvist was sidelined with an injury that he was supposedly nursing all season long. This left Talbot as the only goaltender that the Rangers had, outside of the AHL, who could start for them, and at 2-5-0 they needed him to not only play, but play well if they had any hope of bouncing back from their rough start to the season.
Through all the pressure, however, Talbot played very well. In his first ever NHL game, Talbot picked up the loss despite showing promise against the Philadelphia Flyers. He only let in two goals, had a .930 save percentage, and put the Rangers in a position to win the game. In his next game against the Detroit Red Wings Talbot performed well again, allowing only two goals and posting a .940 save percentage on his way to a 3-2 overtime victory, the first win of his NHL career. After that game Lundqvist was healthy once again and ready to play, but the Rangers knew they had a backup in Talbot who could play when they needed to give Lundqvist a rest and perform in such a way that the Rangers had a chance to win.
Since those two games, Talbot has started two others and won both of them, his latest being a 4-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. After a very difficult stretch at the beginning of the season, the Rangers have managed to bounce back and Talbot is a big reason why they were able to do so. His ability to perform well for the Rangers when they needed him to allowed them to win crucial games and also showed the Blue Shirts his abilities as a goaltender. This is not only important in the short term, but the long term as well.
Talbot’s early success in his NHL career is extremely positive for the Rangers. Biron was most likely going to retire after his contract with the Rangers expired after this season, but the Rangers thought they were not going to have to worry about that until this season ended. This would have given Talbot, who the Rangers were unsure was NHL ready, more games in the AHL so that he could develop. He was not given that time, however, due to Biron’s early retirement, but it looks like he did not need it. Talbot is proving that he is ready to be a backup in the NHL, and one that the Rangers could put out with confidence.
This is also positive for the long term for the Rangers as well. Talbot is only twenty six years old, meaning he is going to be in the league for a very long time if he stays healthy. If he continues to play the way he does, or even manages to improve his game, he will most certainly be the Rangers’ backup for a long time. Now, this is only a small sample size of what Talbot can do, but if this is any indication of how he will play throughout his career he is going to be a very good goaltender. His Ghostbusters goalie mask and his stellar play has captivated Ranger fans, and as the season rolls along look for Talbot to give Lundqvist much needed days off, while at the same time giving New York a very good chance to win.