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GR8 CHALLENGE

Talbot calm, cool and poised to face Ovechkin and potent Caps offence tonight

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames

All these years later, that shot, about as welcome as a musket of buckshot discharged at eye-level from close range, still packs the wallop of a Mike Tyson uppercut jawbreaker originating from the boot-tops.

"He's one of the best goal-scorers of all time, if not THE best," Cam Talbot is musing following Tuesday's morning skate, looking ahead to the singular challenge of squaring up to the Gr8, Alexander Ovechkin, later that evening at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"He just seems to get better. I mean, he's still scoring 50 goals a year and he's 34 years old.

"You can't say enough about pure goal-scorers like that. They just seem to find spots.

"And this team has so many players with the ability to find him;so many pure passers."

Ovechkin, ho hum, is off to another productive start for the 6-2-2 Washington Capitals, tallying six goals. Over the course of a 780-goal career, he's made that one spot, off-to-the-side, on the powerplay, his own piece of turf, in much the same way Wayne Gretzky put dibs on the space behind the opposition net to work his particular magic.

"The problem is with this team they've got four other weapons on the ice,'' cautions Talbot. "They can mix it up. You can't really concentrate on one guy because (John) Carlson ( the NHL's leading scorer, with 18 points from his position along the blueline,) can beat you from the top, (Evgeny) Kusnetsov can beat you from the wall, and (T.J.) Oshie can beat you from the slot.

"They have so many guys that can put the puck in the net that you can't just focus on 8 or else they'll beat you in other ways."

 

Video: "It gives me some momentum"

 

Talbot saw far more of Ovie and the gang during his tenure on Broadway. He's 3-5 vs. the Caps lifetime. 

"For me, coming in as an undrafted guy in New York, seeing these guys you're kind of in awe of the guys at first.

"Then you realize you've got to go out and play against them the next night. But you look forward to those challenges. You want to play against the best every night and prove you still belong."

Tonight, marking his regular-season home debut as a Flame, Talbot looks to build on an excellent 29-save turn at Anaheim on Sunday.

The summer addition's three for-keeps appearances modelling the Flaming C have arrived on the road, taking in the full 60 minutes in both San Jose and Anaheim, and a period in relief of David Rittich against the Kings at the Staples Centre on Saturday.

"I am excited," he confessed. "Other than half a game in the pre-season, I haven't been able to play here. Just excited to keep a little bit of a rhythm going."

Nailing down the inaugural win for his new team can only help Talbot relax moving forward.

"Getting in the last 20 minutes in L.A. kinda helped with that. After another week off, it was good to get those 20 minutes, get your game legs going, especially with non-pre-game skate the next day. So that kinda helped me feel a little more comfortable."

 

Video: Ovechkin, Carlson and Hathaway weigh in

 

Needless to say, Ovechkin is an acknowledged master at turning growing comfort into acute distress.

"You've got to attack it,'" says Talbot when asked about any of that famous shot.

"If anything, these guys" - he motioned around the room at his teammates - "should be (worried). They're the ones without padding who have to put their bodies in front of that shot."

A teasing smile.

"Everyone says goalies are the crazy ones, but I think these guys are the crazy ones."

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