Cam Talbot arrived at Madison Square Garden on a snowy Tuesday morning for the team's skate going about his usual routine, but before he could even grab a bagel, Talbot was intercepted by goaltending coach Benoit Allaire who informed him that Henrik Lundqvist is ill and that Talbot would be making the start tonight against the Islanders. Acording to head coach Alain Vigneault, Talbot received the news, said Okay, and then proceded with his normal game-day routine.
No wondering why one of his nicknames is "Calm" Talbot.
"He's always been very calm, and seems very confident in his abilities," Vigneault said of Talbot, who owns a 10-3-0 record so far this season. "He's going to play well tonight."
Talbot, who admitted Tuesday morning that his first year in the NHL has "exceeded" his expectations, last started on Saturday, finishing with 29 saves in the Rangers 4-1 victory up in Ottawa over the Senators. His most recent start on home ice at The Garden came on December 23rd, a 2-1 shootout victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in which he made 25 saves, and stopped another two of three shots during the shootout.
Overall Talbot has won four of his last five starts, and ten of his last twelve. Only twice in 13 starts, and 15 total appearances, has Talbot allowed more than two goals.
"I don't feel any added pressure," Talbot said of making the fill-in start against the Islanders. "The guys are playing great, and I'm just going to go out there tonight and try and keep it rolling. I'm just happy to get the opportunity to play and give the guys a chance to win."
Talbot will carry a miniscule 1.62 goals against average into tonight's contest along with a sterling .940 save percentage. He has faced the Islanders once already this season, stopping 22 of 24 shots in a 3-2 Rangers victory at the Nassau Coliseum on October 29th.
"Obviously the fans are pretty spirited for both teams, and there's no love lost between the two teams, so it should be another hard-fought game tonight and a real battle," stated Talbot.
Vigneault said that Lundqvist is "not feeling well" and will not even serve as Talbot's back-up against the Islanders. The head coach said that it was still being decided who will be summoned to back up Talbot. Vigneault also would not speculate as to how long Lundqvist may be sidelined.
Lundqvist had started ten of the Rangers past 12 games, and has allowed only eight goals in his last six starts (5-1-0).