The Camundrum: Should Talbot Start Over the King?

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Talbot has been sensational since taking over the starting role

When Henrik Lundqvist went down earlier this year with a neck injury many Ranger fans felt that the injury would derail the team’s season. While Lundqvist is expected to return next week to the lineup, it may not be an easy return for the King.

Many expected that New York’s season would take a dive after losing their star player. Instead they have thrived behind their young goaltender Cam Talbot who has made it very interesting for the Rangers moving forward.

Talbot has been spectacular in the goal helping propel the Rangers into first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 17-6-4 record, 2.19 GAA, and .926 save percentage. Currently, Talbot’s statistics, including winning percentage are higher than Lundqvist’s totals this season.

There is no question that Lundqvist is still one of if not the best goaltenders in the NHL. However, after suffering a severe injury like the one Lundqvist is a hard one to overcome quickly. When he is on, there is no question that Lundqvist is the team’s starter. Still, he needs to prove that he is 100% healthy before New York relies on him to carry the team throughout the playoffs.

If Lundqvist struggles should the Rangers stick with the King or ride the hot hand in Talbot ?

If Lundqvist struggles should the Rangers stick with the King or ride the hot hand in Talbot ?

However, if Lundqvist struggles in his return before the playoffs it might be better for this team to do the unthinkable, bench the King. In the NHL Playoffs it’s the team with the better goaltender or hotter goaltender at the time that makes a run. Given how well Talbot has played this season and if Lundqvist is not at 100%, it makes sense to start the player who gives the team the best chance to win.

Even though the Rangers will probably start Lundqvist no matter how he plays in his return, the organization should keep a short leash on him in the playoffs. If he does not play well in a series, the Rangers should not be afraid to pull their star goaltender and play the hot hand.

The Rangers have the potential to not only make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals, but to win their first championship since 1994. However, they will need strong goaltending to get there and will need to figure out who gives them the best chance to win. The King or Cam Talbot?

Cam Can: Talbot Filling in Nicely for the Blueshirts

Talbot has played great since taking over for Lundqvist

Talbot has played great since taking over for Lundqvist

When it was announced that Henrik Lundqvist would miss almost a month after taking a puck to the throat, there were immediate concerns about who would start for the Rangers in between the pipes. While it was rumored that New York was actively pursuing a trade for a stop-gap goaltender until Lundqvist was healthy is seems that the Rangers have found a solution with their 27-year-old backup.

Since taking over for Lundqvist, Cam Talbot has held his own while ensuring that the Rangers haven’t missed a beat. Talbot is 4-1-1 since the Lundqvist injury and has posted a .918 save percentage this season. With Lundqvist’s health up in the air as the postseason draws nearer, it appears that the Rangers are comfortable with Talbot for the short-term. Cam has been successful in his short career posting a 20-11 career record with a 1.95 GAA since he was first called up last season for the Rangers.

If Talbot continues his strong play for the Rangers, the team may have an interesting scenario on their hands. No, it’s not to replace Lundqvis, but it does give the Rangers a unique luxury. They can use Talbot as a great backup goaltender, or use his value to bring in a big piece for the future. Solid young goaltenders are hard to find in the NHL, and there could be a team that could give the Rangers a few good offensive or defense pieces in return for Talbot’s services.

463466874That scenario is a future one for the club to consider, but in the present the Rangers have to be happy to not have to have to overpay or trade for a journeyman goalie to fill in for Lundqvist. Talbot still has a lot to especially as the number of starts continue to climb. Still, New York fans have to be happy with what Talbot has given them so far and content that he is the answer in the net until the King makes a full recovery.