First Wins for Stajcer (AHL), Talbot (NHL)

With Henrik Lundqvist having returned to the Ranger net for tonight’s home opener, after missing two games due to injury, the swirl that has engulfed the organization’s goaltending situation the last week or so will hopefully calm down.

All things considered, it could have been a whole lot worse for both the Rangers and the Wolf Pack, as Cam Talbot gave the Rangers two real good efforts in the last two games, allowing only four goals on 61 shots and nailing down his first career NHL win Saturday in Detroit, with 32 saves in the Rangers’ dramatic, 3-2 overtime win over the Red Wings.

Cam Talbot makes a save against the Detroit Red Wings in his first NHL win October 26 (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Cam Talbot makes a save against the Detroit Red Wings in his first NHL win October 26 (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

At the AHL level, Scott Stajcer came out of the shadows to play four darned good periods for the Wolf Pack, and he won for the first time in five American League appearances Saturday night at Hershey, stopping 20 shots in the Pack’s 4-3 victory, which broke Hartford’s first losing streak of the season.

Talbot, with his two good outings, has clearly made a strong bid to salt away the backup goaltending job in Gotham that became vacant when Martin Biron was waived and assigned to the Wolf Pack, and later decided to retire.  Ranger coach Alain Vigneault stopped short of handing his number-two role to Talbot, but was suitably impressed, telling the media after Saturday’s game, “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.”

Stajcer, for his part, had not even dressed for a game before suiting up for Friday’s trip to Albany, and ultimately being called upon to play the third period, after the Devils scored four goals on Jeff Malcolm in the first 40 minutes.  Stajcer had been rehabbing from off-season surgery, and it seemed as though he hadn’t even been practicing fully for very long, but he looked very comfortable when he came off the bench on Friday.  The second-year pro stopped

Scott Stajcer, in his first career AHL win October 26 in Hershey (JustSports Photography)

Scott Stajcer, in his first career AHL win October 26 in Hershey (JustSports Photography)

all six shots he faced that night, including the second penalty-shot chance of the game for Albany’s Harri Pesonen, giving the Wolf Pack a chance to get back into a game they trailed 4-1 after two.  The comeback fell just short, with the Devils prevailing by a score of 4-3, but Stajcer showed enough to earn the starting nod Saturday in Chocolatetown, and he did not disappoint.

With Lundqvist ready to get back into action, Jason Missiaen was shuttled back to the Wolf Pack, and several interesting questions loom for both the Pack and Rangers in the coming days.  I wonder, for example, how soon it will be before Talbot gets another chance for a Ranger start.  The parent club plays four games in six nights this week…will they want to get Lundqvist a little more rest than usual, to guard against his re-aggravating the ailment that sidelined him?  If not, will they flip-flop Talbot back-and-forth between New York and Hartford, so that he could stay sharp by playing some AHL games?  And will the Rangers be actively shopping for another experienced netminder as an insurance policy?

Here with the Wolf Pack, it would seem that Stajcer has earned the chance to keep the net for at least one more start, but on the other hand, Missiaen is clearly thought of as the number-three man in the organization right now, so will the need to keep him game-ready override the relatively hot hand that Stajcer currently possesses?  Further, does Malcolm go back to Greenville to play in the ECHL, or is it Stajcer, still relatively fresh off his return to injury, who needs to be guaranteed of playing more?

Interesting stuff…glad I don’t have to decide.


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