Imagine for a moment you're dating someone who is perfect. They're attractive, take care of you, cook amazing meals every night, love your parents and just fit in your life. The both of you are a perfect match and you make each other happy. Over time, the little things start to become overlook and you start taking them for granted. You expect perfection because you're used to it.
Now let's say this significant other leaves you for whatever reason. At first you are shocked, but you have to pick yourself up and move on. So you go to your backup option (someone you work with let's say) who is good, but you're used to perfection. All of a sudden all the little things they did that you took for granted come to light, and while you're not blaming this new person for not being the old person (after all no one is) you can't help but feel like you screwed up for not appreciating what you had.
That, in a strange nutshell, is the Henrik Lundqvist Cam Talbot situation right now.
Lundqvist has been so good for so long -- and so healthy for so long -- that people simply got used to the eye-popping saves, and countless times he pulled the Rangers single-handedly from the jaws of defeat. They became regular occurrences that didn't really register on the amazing scale despite how amazing they really were.
So when I see people complaining about how terrible Talbot is, or how much of a step down it is between him and Lundqvist, I get annoyed. That's the panic talking. Don't let the panic talk for you. Of course Talbot is going to be a step down from Lundqvist. Anyone would be.
In the four games since Lundqvist's injury Talbot is 2-1-1. That includes a win over Boston, a loss to Nashville, an overtime loss to Dallas and a win over Toronto. Talbot was exceptional against Boston, really good against Nashville, gave up one soft goal against Dallas (not the game winner) and was dreadful against Toronto.
In my book, Toronto was the first game where I truly noticed Lundqvist wasn't between the pipes. And you know what? Bad games happen to everyone, from the elite to the backups and back again. If any team in the league loses their starting goaltender, there is going to be a period of uncomfortable hockey. There is a reason why backups are, well, backups.
And this is exactly why the idea the Rangers need to shed valuable assets on a backup goaltender is insane. Anyone the Rangers get on the open market isn't going to be a step up from Talbot, and they're going to cost the Rangers picks or prospects they should be spending on something else.
If the goal is to be prepared in case Talbot goes down with an injury, then the Rangers will have just as much luck finding an unsigned free agent as they will with a backup. And while it might not be ideal, Mackenzie Skapski playing a few regular season games isn't the worst thing in the world, either.
If the truly worst case scenario happens -- Lundqvist actually being out much longer than expected -- you're still in an uncomfortable position, but if you really think any of the backup goalies available on the marker (or free agency) are the answer, I don't want to know what the question is.
One bad game doesn't make a bad goalie. The Rangers were lucky to be playing Toronto on Tuesday and tonight's matchup against the Avalanche isn't exactly the toughest game, either. Doesn't mean the Rangers can take the night off, but it does mean it could have been much worse. Mike documented the opportunity the Rangers have (with Talbot) on this road trip. The memo would be the same no matter who is between the pipes.
So before you start banging your head against the wall wishing the Rangers moved assets for Jhonas Enroth -- who was somehow worth a conditional third round pick and a prospect -- take a deep breath and look at the big picture. Enroth is not better than Talbot. He's not worth spending assets on.
And he was probably the best option available out there.