Cam Talbot came to New York Rangers training camp last September trying to prove he was an NHL-caliber goaltender. He'll be back this September trying to show his performance as Henrik Lundqvist's backup in 2013-14 was no fluke.
Talbot got his first chance to play in the NHL last October as a 26-year-old rookie after Martin Biron retired, and he made the most of it. The former Alabama-Huntsville goaltender went 12-6-1 with a 1.64 goals-against average, a save percentage of .941 and three shutouts.
He told BlueshirtsUnited.com his goal for this season is to show he's not a one-hit wonder.
"I think the last few years I've come into camp in good shape and I've been fairly ready, but they've had two pretty good goalies ahead of me and it wasn't my time," Talbot said. "This year coming up, I have to prove that last year wasn't a fluke. I think a lot of people are going to think I came in and played a little bit beyond my range last year, and it's my goal to go out and prove them wrong."
Talbot saw action in 21 games. When he wasn't playing, he said he was watching and learning from Lundqvist, one of the NHL's elite goaltenders.
"Work ethic on and off the ice, I think that's the biggest thing," he said when asked what he learned most by watching the winningest goaltender in franchise history on a daily basis. "You see how much Henrik competes even just at practice. When he gets scored on at practice, he's just as mad as when he gets scored on in a game. I think that's the biggest thing; your compete level all the time has to be high because what you do in practice carries over into a game. You can see that it carries over in his game, and that's the biggest thing I want to take for my game is to work as hard as I can on and off the ice and translate that into good performances in games."
Talbot's role in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was limited to two relief appearances before he broke his hand and wasn't able to dress for the Stanley Cup Final.
"It was really frustrating," he said of having to watch his teammates take the ice without him during the five-game loss to the Los Angeles Kings. "You're there with the guys all year, battling with them, practicing hard, working your butt off in the gym. It's hard to take a back seat at that stage of the season. I would have loved to have been out there with them, but they still made me feel like part of the team."
Among the highlights of Talbot's first season was his NHL debut against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 24, his first NHL victory against the Detroit Red Wings two nights later, and his first NHL shutout, a 1-0 victory against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Nov. 16.
The win in Montreal had a little extra meaning to Talbot.
"Montreal was my favorite team growing up and I always idolized Patrick Roy, so to do it in that building was pretty special for me," he said. "I always wanted to wear No. 33 growing up; I idolized Patrick Roy. He always seemed to come up big in the biggest games. He was always a big competitor, and that's what I wanted to model my game after."