Thursday night will be a landmark occasion for the New York Rangers, as it will mark the NHL debut of goaltender Cam Talbot. Henrik Lundqvist is unable to dress, so Talbot will be the team's starter against the Philadelphia Flyers.
As Adam Herman of the New York Rangers blog pointed out, it will be the first time in over two years that a goalie not named Henrik Lundqvist or Martin Biron started in goal for the Blueshirts.
Last goaltender besides Lundqvist & Biron to start for #NYR was Alex Auld on March 6th, 2011. That was 237 regular season games ago. Wow.— Adam Herman (@Herman_NYRBlog) October 23, 2013
Lundqvist is currently day-to-day with a nagging injury, and his status for the next few games is unknown, so can Talbot be the Rangers' spark plug in his absence?
There is always a ton of adrenaline flowing whenever a rookie makes their debut because the rookie is always prepared to do whatever it takes to win.
Right now it doesn't matter that the Rangers only have two wins. What matters is that Talbot is making his debut, and that he will inject some much needed energy into the lineup.
Alain Vigneault feels the team needs to show some more effort, and he told reporters, "I do know that my teams compete, my teams play hard, and they’re hard to play. We haven’t been that way, and it’s my responsibility to get us there.” (h/t New York Post)
It is never a good sign when a coach has to call out his team this early on in the season, but that is what the team needs right now.
At this point, the Rangers need something to rally around, and Talbot is the perfect focal point.
He is a 26-year-old rookie that has battled and clawed to become an NHL player, and he is making his debut in a time where the Rangers need to win hockey games.
The current Ranger starter is a very hard worker, and for that reason, the Blueshirts are in good hands. Talbot's road to the NHL was a long one, and the Rangers took a big chance on him in 2010, according to the following report filed by Dan David on the Rangers' official website.
The state of Alabama is an unlikely hockey hotbed and certainly not the first place many scouts think of when looking for future NHL stars. But Gordie Clark, the Rangers' Director, Player Personnel, and his team of scouts are committed to finding talent on all parts of the map, and this past season, that quest took them all the way to Huntsville, Ala., where they found a goaltender with a bright pro future.
Clark relied on the testimony of Danton Cole— head of the hockey program at the University of Huntsville and teammate of former Ranger draft pick Larry Bernard—and Talbot was brought to the organization because of rave reviews.
While watching Talbot in the NCAA, Clark was surprised with how composed Talbot was as a player.
I told our scout I expected them to get spanked in the game, but they won, said Clark. They won it and got to go to the NCAA tournament, so I sent another couple guys in to watch him. They got beat in that second game, but in both games, they were in it.
That was three years ago, and since then Talbot has blossomed into a pretty solid goaltender.
The 6'3" netminder has had an amazing AHL season to date, and he currently has a record of 4-0-2 with a 2.49 GAA, and a .924 save percentage.
It remains to be seen if that success translates to the NHL level, but Talbot should be able to make a seamless transition against a Philadelphia Flyer team that has been very sluggish early on in the season.
There is no reason to take them lightly, but fans would rather see a rookie face them instead of a powerhouse like the Chicago Blackhawks.
Although Lundqvist isn't dressing on Thursday, he is traveling with the team.
The 31-year-old netminder has not had a great start, and he sent out the following tweet on Wednesday afternoon that focuses on remaining positive about the future.
Not the start of the season I was looking for. But no looking back.. Trying to stay positive and things will turn around for me/us— Henrik Lundqvist (@HLundqvist30) October 23, 2013
Instead of dwelling on injuries, the Rangers can focus on doing everything in their power to get Talbot a win. They can pick up a very important pair of points, and they can pick up some momentum.
Talbot is not going to steal Lundqvist's job, but he has the ability to be a spark plug for a team that has been MIA for most of the season to date.