Call it stirring the pot. Call it a goalie controversy. Call it whatever you want. This morning, I wrote it would be a surprise to see Cam Talbot back in goal tonight, and, low and behold, we were surprised at the Rangers morning skate when Talbot was the first goalie off the ice, and both he and Alain Vigneault confirmed afterward Talbot will be making his second consecutive start Monday night versus the Jets.
AV confirms @ctalbot33 starts in goal again tonight "for me it's about trying to win one game"— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) December 2, 2013
The game also marks Talbot's second-ever start at Madison Square Garden, and with an upcoming road game this Thursday in Buffalo, many assumed Talbot would get the nod for the road tilt, where he's been a stellar 5-1.
There are a lot of ways to look at this move. Vigneault has shown all season he's not afraid to bench a player to give him a subtle reminder his performance is being monitored. Vigneault has also been pretty vocal about giving Lundqvist more rest (and, with the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, where the Swedish will ride Lundqvist the entire tournament, rest for the King is paramount), but make no mistake of it, there is no goalie controversy in New York.
Should have gone without saying, but Vigneault says that Lundqvist is "definitely our No. 1 GT" after naming Talbot to go tonight v Jets.— Larry Brooks (@NYP_Brooksie) December 2, 2013
Vigneault understands any chance the Rangers have at making an extended playoff run lives and dies by Lundqvist's play. But for now, as the coach said, it's about winning "one game," and he feels Talbot is the guy tonight for that job.
In what will probably become more of a story now, Lundqvist's impending free agency and contract negotiations became a post-skate topic. Vigneault defaulted to upper management, while Lundqvist said his contract situation has not been a distraction, and declined to further comment.
Lundqvist, who has handled his playing time like a true professional, once again took the opportunity to praise Talbot, and express his support for his young backup.
And for the umpteenth time: Henrik Lundqvist is the New York Rangers starting goaltender, and one of the best in the entire world at the position. That hasn't changed, and to make a controversy out of the Rangers having a more-than-serviceable backup is foolish at best.
In other lineup news, both John Moore and Taylor Pyatt will be healthy scratches again Monday night, meaning Michael Del Zotto will remain in the lineup. The Del Zotto trade rumors have died down a bit, but with the defenseman scoring Saturday against Vancouver, and getting an extended look, expect those rumors to potentially pick up again.
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