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There was a time last season that Henrik Lundqvist was playing so poorly, and Cam Talbot was playing so well, that a very small but very vocal segment of the fan base was calling for a change at the number one spot. Imagine that. Crazy, right? But, it happened. Small sample sizes can do wacky things to people’s perceptions. Talbot had a phenomenal 2013-2014 season, but has struggled so far (relatively speaking) in the new campaign.
Last year, Talbot ended the season with a 1.64 GAA and a .941 save percentage in 21 games played. If he had put up those numbers over a starter’s workload, he would have run away with the Vezina. We all knew (hopefully) that these flawed metrics, although nice to see from our backup, were not reflective of his true talent level. In fairness, they aren’t reflective of anyone’s true talent level.
In 4 games so far this season, Talbot’s GAA has ballooned to 3.48 and his save percentage has slid to .880. Neither of those numbers are particularly pretty. I’ve seen comments on the Twitters and other social media about how hard regression is hitting Talbot, which naturally begs the question: what is the mean he is regressing to?
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Cam Talbot has been an interesting story since joining the Rangers in Marty Biron’s stead at the beginning of last season. An undrafted free agent who blew the lid off his ceiling and went on to have a mini-breakout season as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup. He put up tremendous numbers (12-6-1, 1.64 GAA, .941 sv%), and by virtue of his age, can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this coming season.
Now, this puts the club in something of a pickle. He has an incredibly small sample size of games to judge his true talent level. What complicates things further is that most goalies of NHL caliber talent can put up quality numbers in a small set of games. What makes a starter is the ability to hold up that level of play over a fairly grueling 55-65 game sample. We have no idea if Talbot is up to that task, and unless something goes catastrophically wrong, we’re unlikely to find out this season. Read more »
They’re the two best friends that anyone could have…
This was kind of a strange year for Ranger goaltending. We saw Martin Biron retire after only seven games, Henrik Lundqvist really struggle for the first time in his career and the relatively untested Cam Talbot come up and dominate. Let’s try and sort it out and get some grades…
Cam Talbot- Talbot came up after the previously mentioned retirement of Martin Biron and allowed the world to see that he belongs in The Show. In 21 games and 19 starts, Talbot put up a 12-6-1 line with a 1.64 GAA and a .941 save percentage. No matter how you slice it, this was a phenomenal year from a backup that could easily be viewed as a best case scenario.
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Today was breakup day for the Rangers, and there were some interesting quotes from some of the players, and not all were good.
Dan Girardi suffered a broken pinkie in Game Two against the Kings, per Andrew Gross. I thought he was hurt, but I thought he was more banged up.
Anton Stralman said that his family and security are his primary concerns, per Seth Rothman. That sounds like someone who is looking for a big deal, and it may not come from the Rangers. As for Brian Boyle, Rothman also quoted Boyle saying he would like more responsibility. Boyle’s role with the Rangers will continue to be the same, if he stays. Losing one or both of these guys would be a big blow to the Rangers.
Per Larry Brooks, Cam Talbot suffered a broken hand during warmups of Game Six against Montreal. Talbot, who relieved Hank in Game Five of the same series, did not participate in warmups or practices following the Eastern Conference Final. There were rumors that he was hurt during Game Five, which wouldn’t have been surprising considering it was his first action in two months. It is assumed he will be good to go by next season.
One final note: Thomas Spelling, the Rangers 5th round pick in 2012, is now an unrestricted free agent. The Rangers decided to pass on signing him by the June 1 deadline. This isn’t really surprising news, as he bounced around the Euro leagues following his draft year.
Some quick practice notes this morning, aside from the end of John Moore’s suspension. First, Cam Talbot was not at practice, and there is no update on his status. Talbot suffered from an undisclosed injury in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals, and has been day-to-day since. Also, J.T. Miller, who hurt his shoulder in the Eastern Conference Finals, is good to go. Miller likely won’t get action unless there is an injury, but he adds some decent depth in that scenario. Both of these bits come from Andrew Gross.
Per Katie Strang, Cam Talbot sat out for a second straight practice with an undisclosed injury. This is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things, because Talbot and/or LeNeveu would only see ice time if Hank gets hurt, forgets how to play goalie, or goes nuts and disappears to Africa to hang with Dave Chappelle. I asked Jim Cerny if Talbot made the trip, to which he responded yes.
Lundqvist has been in the top-six for games played by a goalie in all but one of the last eight seasons
Though much has changed with the New York Rangers over the last 12 months, one thing remains the same: the team goes as Henrik Lundqvist goes.
During the early part of the season when the Blueshirts were regularly getting crushed by Western Conference foes, The King was not himself. And not coincidentally, during the second half of the year when the club came together, Lundqvist returned to his usual Vezina form. Now Lundqvist has raised his game again, to an otherworldly level that no other netminder alive can approach, and suddenly the team is on the cusp of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Lundqvist’s talent, focus and desire are obviously keys to his success and have never been in question. But how much of his recent run is due to coach Alain Vigneault’s insistence on giving his backups – first Martin Biron, then Cam Talbot – a larger workload this season?
Lundqvist has shouldered an absurdly high workload in recent years, especially now that he’s no longer a young pup. Including playoffs, he’s started 597 games and logged 32,945 minutes over the last eight seasons and has finished in the top-six in games played for a goalie in all but one of those years. (Lundqvist played a staggering 3,331 minutes in the condensed lockout-shortened season, and played 5,005, 4,353, 4,204, 4,533, 4,913, 4,746 minutes in his previous six seasons, respectively).
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Talbot’s cap hit is just $565,500 next season
When Henrik Lundqvist re-signed with the Rangers for seven years, $59.5 million on December 4, one of the possible dominoes was the team trading backup goalie Cam Talbot this summer.
Talbot has produced at probably an unsustainable level. With just one season separating the 26-year-old from unrestricted free agency, you have to assume Talbot is eyeing a chance to compete for a starting job. Recouping some value by dealing a blossoming netminder still in his prime years for a draft pick seemed like it could be sensible since Talbot would never be able to assume the crown in New York.
However, the reasons in favor of keeping Talbot keep adding up.
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Cam Talbot will want a starting opportunity if he keeps up his form. (Scott Levy, Getty Images)
The dilemma is always there: A franchise always wants to have strong goaltending and a strong, reliable back-up, but the threat of losing such a commodity to a club dangling a starting gig is constant. Cam Talbot may be approaching this kind of situation in his near future and the Rangers need to be ready to deal with it.
The Rangers have been lucky in recent times with backup goaltending thanks to Marty Biron and now – in spectacular style – Cam Talbot. With Talbot’s play – leading the league in save percentage and goals against average – Talbot will surely be an enticing prospect for several clubs this summer (the likes of Washington, Islanders, Calgary and perhaps even teams such as Winnipeg). Henrik Lundqvist’s backup still has a year left on his modest contract and with his performances, appealing size and (likely) desire not to remain a back-up long term, he’ll surely be open to offers.
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This was literally the only picture I could find of Henrik handling a puck. I think this was ’06.
The request for this post came from reader Max Steuer. Keep those suggestions coming! If you have a post idea you’d like one of us to run with, make sure to reach out to your desired author via email or twitter.
Throughout Henrik Lundqvist’s stellar career to date, one of the common detractions from his game has always been his inability to play the puck effectively. The past couple years have highlighted this weakness in his game, as Marty Biron, and now, Cam Talbot have been effective and capable puck handlers. This skill has been somewhat anecdotal (though, I have always included it in my style analyses) throughout the evolution of goalie development.
It’s nearly impossible to quantify in any meaningful way, and was always viewed as a bonus when a goaltender was blessed with strong stick skills. After a quick Google search for the purposes of researching this post, this was all but confirmed. Many instructors and YouTube aficionados have drills and technique suggestions and the like, but no one out there seems to have a handle on how to quantify it.
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