The Rangers open up their pre-season schedule on Monday night at the Prudential Center, and when they skate against the Devils, not shockingly, Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal for the visitors. Rangers Head coach Alain Vigneault said that Lundqvist is expected to play half of Monday's game before giving way to Cam Talbot, whom the new bench boss said on Sunday is in the mix fighting for the back-up role to Lundqvist this season.
"Benoit (Allaire, the Rangers goaltending coach) has mentioned to me on several occasions that this young man is right there, he's progressed quite a bit in the last couple of years, and he feels he can be an NHL goaltender," Vigneault said of the 26 year-old Talbot, who played in 55 AHL games a year ago. "Now is that right now or is that in the near future? We'll let those things sort themselves out."
Talbot, who on Sunday noted that he has learned what it takes to be an NHL goalie by his interactions with Lundqvist, Allaire, and Martin Biron the past few years, was obviously thrilled to hear what the Rangers coach had to say about him and his opportunity.
"I was hopeful for that opportunity, and it's great to know that's what the coach is thinking," stated Talbot. "I am just trying to come in here and impress the new coaching staff every chance I get. I know Marty and Johan (Hedberg) are established NHL goaltenders, and it's a tall task with me just coming up and them being established, but I feel that I have every opportunity to come in and make a case for myself."
Playing in front of Lundqvist and Talbot on Monday at The Rock will be defensemen Marc Staal, John Moore, Justin Falk, Aaron Johnson, Michael Del Zotto, and either Stu Bickel or Dylan McIlrath. Bickel is slated to play, but he as sifelined Sunday by a sore back, and if that flares up again Monday, McIlrath would take his place in the lineup.
Up front the Rangers will dress Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, Chris Kreider, Dominic Moore, Aaron Asham, Darroll Powe, Danny Kristo, Marek Hrivik, Ryan Bourque, Brandon Mashinter, and Shawn O'Donnell against the Devils.
Monday marks the first of six pre-season games for the Rangers, who will be right back at it Tuesday night when they face the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.