- Maxime Talbot
certainly has a knack for the dramatic.
Then again, you don't earn the nickname "The Gamer" for being a slacker.
"It's a nickname we gave him last season when he began scoring some big goals for us," Pittsburgh Penguins
defenseman Mark Eaton
said after Talbot's two goals in Game 7 against Detroit led the Pens to the Stanley Cup. "I suppose he really confirmed that nickname in Game 7."
"He lives for that nickname," Pens forward Bill Guerin
said. "He always steps up and just loves it."
Talbot, an eighth-round draft choice of the Penguins in 2002, scored two second-period goals to lead Pittsburgh to a 2-1 victory over the Red Wings.
For the feisty Talbot, Game 7 was everything he could have imagined. And beating the team that had defeated the Penguins in the 2008 Final was icing on the cake.
"I just put the pucks in -- it was an entire team effort and we all played so well tonight," a jubilant Talbot said on the ice after the win. "What can I say? We won the Cup, man. This is just crazy."
Talbot had problems controlling his emotions when his mother, father and brother eventually joined him on the ice.
"Hey guys," a wide-eyed Talbot said, "does it get any better than this? I always like to wake up every morning and say 'Today's the best day of my life,' and (Friday night) was really the best day of my life."
Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma
can't put a finger on why Talbot has ice in his veins. He finished with 4 goals and 6 points in seven games against the Red Wings in this series -- also scoring twice in a Game 3 victory in Pittsburgh.
"I don't have a good explanation about why this guy can come up big in tough situations or big games, but he's done it enough to know that's what he can do," Bylsma said. "He's gritty, he's determined and he's not scared to go after it."
Talbot scored a memorable game-tying goal with 35 seconds remaining in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final last season against the Wings. Petr Sykora
would eventually score the winner in overtime as the Penguins extended their season by one game before their season ended with a Game 6 loss in Pittsburgh.
Even Talbot is dumbfounded by his flair for the dramatics.
"When you score big goals through your career, it feels like it stays with you and people talk about it," Talbot said. "Now you start believing in it and you just say to yourself that you're that type of player. You want to be there in big games.
"It might sound stupid, but hockey is a lot in the head," Talbot continued. "There are probably players in the (American Hockey League) that have a lot more skills than me and I'm not lying there. But when you think about it, what you can believe in and who you believe in is special. I just can't believe today that we won the Stanley Cup."
Talbot finished with 2 goals and 2 assists over his last four playoff games, establishing career highs with 8 goals, 13 points and a plus-8 rating in 24 playoff games this spring.
Perhaps Talbot said it best when his mother came down from the stands to join her son. Following a quick embrace, Talbot turned to the media throng and confessed:
"Yeah, this is a storybook ending and we won the Cup. I'm with my family right now and, to be honest, I could have scored five goals -- it wouldn't matter right now. I'm with my family and that's all that matters … can I enjoy them now?"
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.