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Talbot or Lundqvist? AV hasn’t said yet (Update: looks like Talbot)

Dec 2, 2013, 10:59 AM EDT

CamTalbot Getty Images

From Larry Brooks of the New York Post, ahead of tonight’s Rangers-Jets game at MSG, for which Blueshirts coach Alain Vigneault has yet to announce his starting goalie:

If it’s Henrik Lundqvist, it is dog bites man. If, however, it is [Cam] Talbot again, it becomes man bites dog in a Rangers’ universe in which The King has not sat for consecutive games when healthy since Feb. 5-7, 2011.

Talbot has been very good this season — in fact, Brooks calls the 26-year-old out of the University of Alabama in Huntsville a “revelation” — with a 6-1-0 record and .944 save percentage.

Lundqvist, meanwhile — the goalie many consider the best in the world, not to mention the one who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer — has been good, but not great, with a .917 save percentage in 19 starts.

“I know who I’m going with [but] I haven’t talked to the goaltenders yet,” Vigneault said Saturday, per the Post.

From the outside looking in, there’s no real controversy here. Lundqvist’s body of work as an NHL goalie (524 career starts) isn’t even comparable to Talbot’s (7 career starts). But if Talbot gets the nod tonight, it will still be the major topic of conversation around the team.

We’ll give the last word to Brooks:

You know, I can’t think of an analogous situation in the NHL where a team’s most valuable player has had this much trouble getting a new deal. Marquee guys get taken care of — and relatively quickly. This one seems odd. It has from the start that didn’t start nearly as early as it should have.

This isn’t offered as an excuse for Lundqvist, who not only has never sought one, but has held himself accountable all season. But there’s no one around who doesn’t wonder whether the contract — or lack thereof after this season—is playing a role in the goaltender’s uncharacteristic inconsistency.

Update: Literally right when we pressed publish on this post, Talbot left the morning skate first, a strong indication he’ll start tonight.

  1. 950003cups - Dec 2, 2013 at 11:18 AM

    Henrik sure picked a fine time to have a rough time. Talbot looks like the real deal, but once teams get a good scouting report in him, and figure out his tendencies and weaknesses, he’ll start to have more trouble. Usually those issues are exploited in the playoffs when you see the same goalie in a best of seven series.

    The rangers should just sign Lundqvist and stop dangling Talbot in his face. Because once the league figures the kid out, and if he doesn’t adjust, things are gonna go from bad to ugly in a flash.

  2. cofran2004 - Dec 2, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    I wouldnt really call things bad…. they’re really starting to turn around. Although losing lundqvist would suck. Pretty badly.

    And truth be told, I think I have him figured out. He lets up some juicy rebounds, the defense has just always been there to clear them out lately. Eventually, someone is going to start cashing those in.

  3. stepanup - Dec 2, 2013 at 11:50 AM

    This is a problem good teams have, two goalies with a sv% .919 or above. Unfortunately I can’t say with 100% certainty the Rangers are a “good team.” Same problem as ever for New York, and it has to do with the opposing goalies crease, not their own. Time to string a few wins together here.

  4. xdj511 - Dec 2, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    Despite the Rangers scoring troubles… it’s obvious that Hank hasn’t quite been himself this season, whether it’s on ongoing thing from what kept him out early in the season, or the pressures of being in a contract year, or conflict with his new head coach, or maybe even having the first backup that’s really capable of challenging him for playing time, he has been shaky and let in goals I’ve never seen him give up before.

    Whatever it is, good for Talbot. He’s played well and deserves the chance to play. If he does end up overexposed and the league figures out his weaknesses, at least the Rangers still have Henrik Lundqvist to fall back on.

  5. geejon - Dec 2, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Perhaps the combination of the league-mandated smaller goalie equipment and the new coach’s new defensive philosophy that doesn’t emphasize forwards/d-men blocking shots has left Lundqvist a bit more vulnerable and taken him down a notch and while still no scrub, he’s no longer “elite”.

    If this is the case, im glad it happened before any huge, salary-cap eating deal was given to him. He would now have the choice of resigning at a far team-friendlier figure or be deadline trade bait.

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