Talbot Shining in First NHL Opportunity

I had never heard of Cam Talbot when he appeared on the Wolf Pack roster in late March of 2010, having been signed by the Rangers as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Alabama-Huntsville.  It’s pretty unusual that a guy would get an NHL free agent contract and would be accompanied by so little fanfare–almost always I would have at least seen the name in The Hockey News or heard the guy talked about in some context, but had never come across any mention of Talbot.

Cam Talbot, in his first pro game April 7, 2010, fresh out of the University of Alabama-Huntsville

Cam Talbot, in his first pro game April 7, 2010, fresh out of the University of Alabama-Huntsville

And I knew that Alabama-Huntsville had a legit program and had produced a smattering of pro players.  Scott Munroe, who was a pretty good AHL goaltender, had also gone there, as had Jared Ross, who was a darned good AHL player, but it wasn’t exactly a factory.

Also, the one game Talbot got into with the Wolf Pack, when he first came to town after his Senior Year, was a blowout loss at home to Worcester in which he played most of the third period, and I have to say, he looked pretty much like a deer in the headlights to me.  I remember thinking, “Well, they must have seen something in this guy if they signed him, and maybe they play him in the ECHL, let him grow and see if he’s got anything going, but he sure looks like he’s got a long ways to go even to be able to play in the American League.”

So, once again, shows you what I know.

Talbot did have some developing to do, but right from his first pro start the next season, in which he shut out Providence in Providence, he proved that whatever the Ranger scouts saw in him was the real thing.

He pushed Chad Johnson hard for the number-one job in Hartford throughout the two seasons that the two were stablemates, and actually grabbed the reins from Johnson at the end of the 2011-12 season.  Talbot made his biggest statement, prior to his NHL action this fall, with his playoff run that year, which saw him shut out division champion Bridgeport twice in a three-game, first-round sweep, and put up postseason stats of a 2.10 goals-against average and a 93.9% save percentage.

Last year was Talbot’s first chance really to carry a number-one load, and although it was a bit of an up-and-down season and the Whale missed the playoffs, he got into 55 games, more than 20 games above his previous pro high, and put up a save percentage of 91.8, a career best.

Now, of course, Talbot has taken it to a whole new level.

Action Shot for Blog - 11-18-13

Marc Staal (right) congratulates Cam Talbot after Talbot’s 1-0 shutout in Montreal Saturday (Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

Since getting a shot at the Rangers’ backup job after the Rangers waived Martin Biron October 15, Talbot has gone 4-1-0 in five NHL starts, with a sparkling 1.58 GAA and 94.3% save percentage.  The crowning touch to a tremendous start to Talbot’s NHL career was his first major-league shutout, a 1-0 road win over Montreal on Saturday.  As if it weren’t enough for Talbot to put up a zero on the road in another Original Six city, the Rangers’ recent results in Montreal had been truly dismal, 0-7-1 in their previous eight trips.  And, even more amazingly, the Rangers had not managed a shutout in Montreal since 1967.  Wow!

“I’m sure it’s gonna be something that he’s going to remember for the rest of his life and career,” Ranger coach Alain Vigneault told the media after Saturday’s game. “Cam, since the first time we’ve called him up, he’s played five games for us right now and he’s played extremely well in every game. He’s given us a chance to win. Tonight, even though they didn’t get a lot in the third period, he had a couple big saves to make at one point. We turned the puck over and he had two huge saves. He did what we need from our goaltenders: He gave us a chance to win the game. He was real solid for us.”

Teams don’t necessarily expect their backup goaltenders to be steadying presences, but it seems clear that Talbot’s confident play has supplied exactly that for the Blueshirts.

“The goalie played really well, very calm,” Brad Richards said Saturday. “Canadian kid playing in Montreal and getting his first shutout. Great story. He’s been nothing but a huge help for us, calming us down when things were a little snaky with all the injuries and Henrik (Lundqvist) going down. He’s been nothing but a calming influence on and off the ice the way he conducts himself.”

It’s awfully early to attempt any definitive pronouncements, but there is no doubt that Talbot is making a big bid to lay permanent claim to the number-two role in Gotham behind Lundqvist.  If Talbot can continue to make as much out of the spot starts that define that job description, it will be a huge help to Lundqvist, and the organization as a whole, and will represent another excellent player-development success story for the Rangers.

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2 Responses to “Talbot Shining in First NHL Opportunity”

  1. chris Says:

    the boys really need to get a streek of w’s together. started out on fire and now big slump it seams

  2. chris Says:

    talbot can u come back to hartford. we need you. come on boys can we get some w’s here jezz

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