Talbot is the better Rangers goaltender… for now
The New York Rangers may have one of the world's best goaltenders in Henrik Lundqvist, but when it comes to this season, he has not had the hot hand.
That title belongs to Blueshirts' back-up goaltender Cam Talbot. After tonight's 2-1 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, one has to start thinking that sticking with Talbot may be the best route take as long as he continues to win hockey games.
For starters, the Rangers have played a lot better with Talbot between the pipes than when Lundqvist is in net. Talbot has won eight of the ten games he has started and in most of those games, the Rangers have played well as a team.
This is not say that the team does not win when Lundqvist is manning the net because since he joined the league in the 2005-06 season, the Rangers have won a of games with the "King" tending goal. With that said, that has not been the case this season.
In 28 games, Lundqvist is 10-15-2 and in some of these losses, the team was completely flat and left Lundqvist out to dry. On the other hand, several of the 15 losses were due to Lundqvist's inconsistent play in the Rangers' net.
Secondly, Talbot has kept his game simple. Talbot controls his rebounds, does a good job of helping out his defensemen by coming out to play the puck and he also covers a lot of the net by playing at the top of his crease and forcing shooters to try and pick corners, which is not an easy thing to do in this league.
This season, Lundqvist has played particularly deep in his crease, which has resulted in many goals against. With the smaller equipment, Lundqvist can no longer afford to stay deep in his net and instead, has to play his game at the top of his crease, something that Lundqvist normally does not do.
Lastly, Talbot has been the better goaltender this year for this hockey club. Yes, he has a much smaller sample size than Lundqvist has but no matter how you look at his, Talbot's numbers have been better.
Talbot is 8-2 this season with a 1.60 goals against average (second in the league), a .938 save percentage (third in the league) and two shutouts (tied for ninth in the league. Looking at Lundqvist, the "King" is 10-15-2 with a 2.77 goals against average, a .905 save percentage and two shutouts.
For Lundqvist, these numbers are well below what the team is used to seeing from him. The slow start certainly hurt him and he has also struggled in his last few games as he has allowed at least three goals in each of his last five games.
Lundqvist may have the new contract and a lot more success in his career but for right now, Talbot has been the better goaltender and deserves more playing time because of it.