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'ONLY GOING TO MAKE EACH OTHER BETTER'

Flames excited about having David Rittich and Cam Talbot man the pipes this season

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

It wasn't a move to solidify just one spot on the roster. 

Or to assign the increasingly old-fashioned, outright 'starter' and 'backup' roles this early in the off-season.

In signing veteran goaltender Cam Talbot to a one-year, $2.75M contract in the early hours of July 1, the Flames are not only getting a quality puck-stopper with a career .915 save percentage.

They're also creating a healthy environment for both the newcomer and their 26-year-old incumbent to push this 107-point outfit forward in tandem.

"A big part of this move is David Rittich," said general manager Brad Treliving. "You're not bringing in Cam to replace David; he's coming in here to support David. ... Part of growing a young goaltender is making sure he has the right support.

"There's a competitiveness, obviously, to make each other better and to make themselves better. There's also a relationship where you're rooting for the other guy when he's in the net.

"People like to put names on things - '1A,' '1B.' 

"I think we've got two good goaltenders that are going to give us the ability to win each and every night. 

"Having said that, Cam's coming here looking for the net. I think it's going to make for a great, competitive situation, but in the right way. I think the personalities are going to mesh and fit really well.

"I like how the tandem sets up."

 

 

Talbot spent the majority of the past four seasons with the Oilers, and led the Flames' Alberta rival to their first playoff appearance in 10 years with a stellar 2016-17 campaign, posting a 42-22-8 record, a .919 save percentage and 2.39 goals-against average.

He appeared in 31 games last year before being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers at the trade deadline, getting in only four games down the stretch, thanks to the emergence of young Carter Hart in the Philly net.

It obviously wasn't the season the Caledonia, Ont., native hoped for, recording a sub-.900 save percentage for the first time in his career. 

Rittich, meanwhile, had just put the finishing touches on a spectacular rookie campaign, fighting off second-half lower-body injury to produce an unflappable, 27-9-5 record, along with a .911 save percentage and a 2.61 goals-against average.

 "I chatted with David this morning and he's really excited about it," Treliving said. "Excited about the opportunity that lies ahead, how his off-season training is going.

"He's feeling really motivated and is looking forward to working with Cam."

Treliving, who pursued Talbot in the summer of 2015 when he was ultimately traded to the Oilers from the New York Rangers, has followed his career closely and is betting last year's numbers are a "blip on the radar."

 

Video: Treliving discusses signing Cam Talbot, RFA progress

 

"Going back to his time in New York, he's been a very consistent goaltender and he's played in all different roles," Treliving said. "He started off as a backup to Henrik Lundqvist; Lundqvist gets hurt and Cam comes in and proves he can be a No. 1 in this league.

"For me, it's not taking a snapshot so much of taking the body of work.

"The other thing with Cam is that he's in the prime of his career. He's a young 31. As we were going through this process...the people in our organization that know this spent a lot of time looking at Cam, as well as some other goaltenders, and felt that some of the things, structurally, where he had some difficulties with in his game last year, are fixable areas."

The 6-foot-4, 196-lb. 'Goalbuster' - who played on the Treliving and Bill Peters-led Canadian entry at the 2016 IIHF World Hockey Championship - is known for his calm, quiet style with a splash of athleticism, when needed. 

"He's calm; real poised and efficient," said goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet. "He proved that in New York and then later in Edmonton that he could be a No. 1 in this league.

"He played over 60 games two years in a row. How often does that happen, right?

"But more than that, he's exactly the kind of guy we want working with David to form a duo.

"Brad and Bill both spent a lot of time with him at the World Championship and they raved about his work ethic and how great of a teammate he is. There's an air about him that's super positive. And when you're looking at forging a relationship between your two guys, you couldn't ask for a better one to bring in.

"They're only going to make each other and make our team better."

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