JIM: I actually looked for a way not to choose Cam Talbot as the Rangers No. 1 Star Thursday night because I did not want it to seem I made the easy choice, selecting the guy who made his NHL debut, but Talbot was the best Ranger on the ice against the Flyers and is my No. 1 Star. The 26 year-old rookie was poised and calm out on the ice, confidently playing the puck and making a string of big-time saves---including two point-blank stops on Brayden Schenn in the thrid period. True, he opened the five hole on Matt Read's goal, but that score also came off a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush by the Flyers after a major breakdown by the Rangers. In the end Talbot made 25 saves and gave his team a chance to win, with no margin for error considering the Rangers' scoring woes. High marks for Talbot in his NHL debut. My No. 2 Star Thursday is Ryan McDonagh, who logged more than 25 minutes and was a rock in front of Talbot. He did not record a point, was credited with only one hit and one blocked shot, but the Mac Truck was rock solid in his own zone. I really liked his game, thought it was as good as he has played all season, so far. My Third Star goes to Chris Kreider, who picked up a secondary assist on Brad Richards' first-period goal and who added jump to the Rangers attack, using his speed and size in the offensive zone throughout. He was also credited with a game-high six hits--though we all could have done without the one he delivered---accidentally, of course--to McDonagh that left his teammate flattened on the ice.
MATT: I know what you mean, Jim, but it's impossible not to choose Cam Talbot as the first star. Aside from the Matt Read goal — the second goal he could do nothing about — Talbot was stellar. He played with such poise and calmness that you would not expect from a rookie in his first NHL game. With Martin Biron now gone, some were worried that the team would need a proven backup, but if Talbot can continue to play like he played last night, the Blueshirts may have their man. My second star is Brad Richards for the fact that he's the only forward right now producing on a regular basis. Sure, his goal may not have been highlight reel quality, but those are the goals players playing with confidence find a way of putting into the net. It's been a tough start to the season so far, but Richards has been a huge positive. My third star was Chris Kreider, who looked very comfortable in his first NHL game of the season. After some games down in Hartford, Kreider was strong in all three zones last night and picked up an assist on Richards' goal. Kreider is the perfect mix of size, skill and speed, but Alain Vigneault has stated that Kreider needs to use that on a more consistent basis, and hopefully last night's game was the start of that.