New York Rangers Shouldn’t Count Out Cam Talbot


The New York Rangers may have a world-class goalie in Henrik Lundqvist, but backup Cam Talbot shouldn’t be counted out of their race to the Stanley Cup.

The New York Rangers have one of the most highly regarded goaltenders in the NHL today. And in the midst of the Eastern Conference Final, Henrik Lundqvist is seen as “the benchmark” for goalies according to Tampa Bay Lightning‘s Ben Bishop himself.

The Swedish superstar was unbelievably reliable through Rounds One and Two, helping the Rangers win more than a few do-or-die games. Lundqvist even had the second highest save percentage and the second best goals against average in the playoffs before the start of the third round.

Then Game Two and Game Three versus Tampa Bay came around and shook every single Henrik critic out of hibernation.

The back-to-back 6-2 and 6-5 losses raised a lot of concern as Hank’s SV% and GAA were skewed to the point where he wasn’t even in the top five anymore. And the last time he’d given up five or more goals was, in fact, against the Lightning early in the regular season.

So because Lundqvist had allowed 12 goals over a span of just two games, in the playoffs no less, some of that criticism seemed to be warranted.

While not all of those 12 goals against were Lundqvist’s fault, Nikita Kucherov‘s game winning goal in overtime was a shot that Hank would’ve normally blocked. You could barely blame the guy after all he’s done, but it was a letdown nevertheless after the Rangers had just battled back to score an unprecedented five goals in Game Three.

New York Rangers
New York Rangers /

New York Rangers

In his post-game interview, Lundqvist was uncharacteristically soft-spoken. As he saw it, he knew he could’ve made that save and mentioned reviewing the tapes to figure out what went wrong. He looked and sounded defeated with the weight of that loss on his shoulders. In truth the whole team was to blame, but Lundqvist blamed nobody but himself.

Which brings me to my point: there is another goalie, a fantastic one no doubt, to relieve Lundqvist when he’s having an off game. When the Rangers have four goals against, Cam Talbot should get on the ice, not to punish Lundqvist, but rather to give him some rest.

Hank may not need a rest physically, but mentally? Probably.

Being a goaltender has to be the most mentally taxing position in the sport of hockey. There’s tremendous pressure to play a perfect game for your teammates to have every chance at winning. That kind of pressure is going to get to anyone, and it certainly looked like it did to Hank in Game Three.

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I’m not saying Talbot should start over Lundqvist.

Lundqvist should start every time he’s able to, but if Hank needs a break in the second or third period of a game then I think he deserves one. Each goal against can chip away at a goalie’s confidence and that could start to affect his performance. And in Game Three, that’s exactly what appeared to have happened. Had Talbot been put in after the fourth goal against, the Rangers would’ve had a more confident twine tender for the rest of the game and maybe a better chance of winning.

Of course, Lundqvist bounced back in the next game, sealing a 5-1 win in Game Four with 38 saves and an extraordinary .974 save percentage. Yet moving forward, the Rangers could benefit from keeping Talbot in mind if Lundqvist has another unlucky night.

Next: Girardi Deserves a Lesser Role

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