Cam Talbot had a solid NHL debut against Philadelphia.
Thursday night, the New York Rangers lost to the Philadelphia Flyers by the score of 2-1. In a season full of terrible losses, this one might have had a silver lining for Rangers’ fans looking for some positives during their early season struggles. With goaltender Henrik Lundqvist out with an undisclosed injury and backup Martin Biron announcing his retirement early in the week, rookie net minder Cam Talbot was called upon to start against the Flyers, and he did very well for his first NHL game. In a hostile environment against one of the Rangers biggest Metropolitan Division rivals, the rookie looked extremely poised between the pipes, which is great news for Ranger fans.
Although Talbot did pick up the loss, his numbers were very good for his first game in the NHL. He stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced, and one of the goals he let in he was screened and could not see the puck. Aside from that, Talbot was extremely solid. He made acrobatic saves, handled the puck extremely well, and made some key saves on great shots that kept the game a 2-1 and gave the Rangers a chance to tie it up. Unfortunately for Talbot, he was the victim of a Rangers offense that has been plagued with injuries, limiting their ability to learn the new system head coach Alain Vigneault is trying to implement.
This game was positive for both Talbot and the Rangers. When Biron announced his retirement, many Ranger fans were unsure what to expect out of both Talbot and Jason Missiaen, who is now the backup with Lundqvist day to day. With the Rangers already struggling defensively, bringing in a rookie goaltender in Talbot who might get peppered with difficult shots against a very skilled Flyers team isn’t exactly the ideal situation. But Talbot performed very well; in fact I think he exceeded the expectations of many Rangers fans in his first game.
Talbot playing well is not only good for the short term for the Rangers, but for the long term as well. Knowing Talbot can play well will make the Rangers in much less of a hurry to rush back Lundqvist before he is ready to play. For the long term, though, it is even more important. The fact that Biron retired left a big hole in the backup goaltender position. Biron was a more than formidable backup for Lundqvist, despite having a rough start to the season. With Talbot showing he can play well though, now the loss of Biron doesn’t seem as bad. If Talbot can play in games where Lundqvist needs rest and can give the Rangers a good chance to win like he did tonight, much like Biron did during his time as backup, then he will be great for the Rangers long term.
Whether he is the backup of the immediate future or the potential starter a few years down the road, Ranger fans have to like what they’re seeing out of Talbot.