Coming into the season, the one thing no one was focusing on was the Rangers goaltending situation. Perennial Vezena Trophy candidate Henrik Lundqvist was the obvious starter with Marty Biron as his veteran back-up.
But then training camp began with an unexpected invite to Johan Hedberg and Biron surprisingly missing the first few days of camp due to an unspecified reason.
Once Biron returned to camp, Alain Vigneault indicated that it was an open competition for the backup position between the incumbent, the Moose and the darkhorse Cam Talbot.
Throughout the remainder of camp you'd hear little notes and quotes about the improved play of Talbot and once the Rangers cut Hedberg loose before heading to Banff to continue training camp it was a two-man race.
Biron ultimately won the competition, but his shaky play last season combined with some dreadful displays of goaltending in San Jose and St. Louis this year gave the Rangers no choice but to cut the veteran.
Would the Rangers go outside the organization for a new backup? Or stay in house? In my mind, Talbot's strong play during the preseason along with a 4-0-1 record to start the year with the Wolfpack made the decision for Rangers management easy.
And since his call-up, he's done nothing but impress with his calm demeanor and ability to make the big save when needed.
His mechanics are very strong. Not a lot of flopping around and always square to the shooter.
Here's one of his beauties during last night's 3-2 overtime win over the Red Wings on Datsyuk…
Here's Alain Vigneault on his back-up goaltender's 32-save performance in Detroit last night…
“Without a doubt, he’s played extremely well in both games he’s done what a goaltender is supposed to do, give you a chance to win. When we had a breakdown you need a save and he made some saves tonight.”
Here's Talbot post game…
“It’s just been an unbelievable ride, I’m still kind of taking it in. I know whenever Hank’s healthy he’s going to step right back in. I’m just trying to enjoy it while it lasts and give these guys a chance to win whenever I’m in there.”
…welp, looks like the Rangers have found their back-up. There were plenty of times in that game when the Red Wings could have ran away with it but Talbot was up to the task every time. I hate to crap on the guy, but no way the Rangers win that game with Biron in net. Sorry, but it's true.
…and with those back-to-back strong performances from Talbot, I hope the Rangers decide to keep Lundqvist on the shelf until he's 100%. Talbot has proven to be a capable replacement and there's absolutely no need for the Rangers to force Lundqvist back and possibly re-injure himself.
…and if Lundqvist is the "King" it must make Talbot his "Prince."
Here's Talbot, complete with Broadway Hat, post game…