NASHVILLE -- Henrik Lundqvist made 41 saves in a spectacular performance in Dallas Thursday night, and when he arrived in Nashville later that evening he had himself a new roommate--his father Peter, who flew in from Sweden to be a part of the Rangers Dads' Trip---and the knowledge that he will get the next night off. Head coach Alain Vigneault confirmed on Friday after practice that Cam Talbot will get the start in goal when the Rangers face off with the Nashville Predators Saturday night at Bridgestone Arena.
With the Rangers in the midst of playing nine games in 15 nights---including a big back-to-back next Friday and Saturday in Boston and at home against the Canucks---it was a given that Talbot would see some action, especially with how well he has played as Lundqvist's back up so far this season. Talbot has won his last four starts, and is coming off last Saturday's 1-0 shutout in Montreal, the first of his NHL career.
"I look at it as just me going out there and getting the chance to play again, try and do what (Lundqvist) did last night and give the team a chance to win," said Talbot, whose father, Mark, is also on the Dads' Trip. "He did a helluva' job last night, and I'm going to go in there tomorrow and try to do the same."
Talbot is 4-1-0 with a 1.58 goals against average and .943 save percentage in his first five NHL games, but even he was left nearly speechless trying to explain Lundqvist's heroic performance in Thursday's 3-2 victory over the Stars.
"I was just kind of in awe watching him, it's like how the heck did he do that?," Talbot said of Lundqvist on Friday. "He pretty much just battled, battled, battled. He's a big-time goalie, and I'm just trying to follow in his footsteps."
That theme of battling was a consistent one Thursday postgame and Friday after practice when players discussed Lundqvist's effort in Dallas. His compete level, which is incredibly high normally, seemed to be in another stratosphere Thursday, exactly what the team needed from its on-ice leader.
"His competitiveness wears off on the other guys," noted Derek Dorsett. "He competes hard all the time, strives to be the best, and that wears off on the rest of the team, and that's why he's one of the biggest leaders on our team. He hates to lose, so that's why you saw what you saw last night in Dallas. It's just the type of player he is."
Talbot is familiar with the Nashville area, having attended Alabama-Huntsville University not too far away. He played three years at Alabama-Huntsville; and in his final year of college Talbot ranked sixth in the entire NCAA with a sterling .925 save percentage. He then signed with the Rangers organization right out of college in the spring of 2010, embarking on a his pro career which landed Talbot in New York this fall as New York's No. 2 goalie.
Defenseman Marc Staal did not practice on Friday. Staal took a shot off his foot during Thursday's win in Dallas, though he still managed to play more than 22 minutes in the game.
Following practice Vigneault said that Staal was taking a maintenance day and should be able to play Saturday against the Predators. During practice Justin Falk skated in Staal's place paired with Anton Stralman.
As for Stralman, whose dad Jan watched practice after a long journey from Sweden yesterday, he mas mic'd up by the MSG Network crew during practice for a feature that will air on the next coach's show on the network.
"I gave them plenty of A material," joked Stralman afterwards.