Should I warn you now? Should I do my usual DOINOW.com blog intro? Sure, you can read the archives on the right hand of the site. Sure, I appreciate if you plug and tell your friends about DOINOW.com. Sure, you can read about why I think Frank Boucher should have his number hanging in the MSG rafters. Sure, you can read about why I think Duclair should be on the roster right now. Sure, you can read about anything NY sports here, but for now, you’re going to read the most obnoxious fan boy blog about Cam Talbot!
The Rangers, winning their last 11/12, rolled into Thursday night, facing their toughest challenge yet. The defending Stanley Cup Champions, the LA Kings. I don’t have to remind you what happened in last years Stanley Cup, but suffice to say, King Contract blew three leads and lost three OT games. In baseball terms, all Lundqvist could do is bow down and call Jonathan Quick his daddy.
You could say the Ducks game was a true litmus test, considering the Ducks are in first place in all of the NHL. However, the Rangers faced a Ducks team, starting their back-up goalie. AV, ever so willing to protect Hank, gave Hank the option of starting against the Ducks or the Kings. Don’t be fooled by any reports stating otherwise, Hank had his choice. Hank is the Lebron of the Rangers organization, he calls the shots, just like how he called for Tortorella’s firing. Hank chose to play the Ducks, and not the Kings, during this West Coast roadtrip. The Rangers, still playing catch up in the standings, due to Hank’s horrible start, looked to Cam Talbot to get them the two biggest points, thus far, of this NHL season.
If you’ve been reading me, and I’m assuming you are, if you’re reading this, you know my spiel on Talbot vs Lundqvist. It’s always the same point – Talbot is the better deal for the money. I look at the goalie situation in a Billy Beane “Moneyball” way, where Lundqvist is not worth $8.5 Million a year. Talbot costs the Rangers $550,000. Sports have a WAR stat (Wins Above Replacement). Talbot has exceeded in this department. If you break it down, for $8 million less, you get the same production and wins with Cam Talbot.
Let me make it clear here, what helps Talbot and what has bailed out Lundqvist, during this 12 out of 13 games win streak, is that the Rangers are scoring at a rate that I can’t remember ever before, in my adult life. Papajohns must be furious right now. Papajohns gives you a 50% off coupon every time the Rangers score 3 goals. The Rangers have been doing that for the majority of the season. If you choose to poison your body with Papajohns, this is your fucking year.
The Rangers came to LA with a disadvantage, in my eyes. The Rangers have won 11 out of 12 games, which means they are due for a loss. They also played last night, beating the NHL points leader, the Anaheim Ducks. The Kings were coming off four days rest and were at home. If any game had a L written all over it, this would’ve been it.
It didn’t start pretty. When the Rangers were down 2-0, due to a McDonagh turnover turned into an easy LA goal and Talbot letting up one of the softest goals of the season, my phone was blowing up. I sank into my Miller Lite, knowing I would get the “I TOLD YOU SO” and “CAM SUCKS” texts and social media messages. However, I still believed in Cam. Cam has it rough here. He hasn’t played in a month. You can practice all day long, but nothing equates to real game experience. Cam had a tired front in front of him, that eventually woke up. Once the Rangers started scoring and Cam got his feet wet, I knew he would wake back up, shake this shit off and be the goalie I knew he could be. I wasn’t disappointed.
As my phone was blowing up with alerts, from other Ranger fans, talking shit about my Talbot fandom, and again, it comes from a Moneyball-eyes and also that I think that you need to give Talbot a chance & rest Hank more often for the playoffs, I sat there intently. I knew Cam was better than this. The first goal could’ve been stopped, but it was a bad turnover. The second goal was just horrendous. After all, I bet money and had reputation bets on this game. (And Evan Davis, Brian Lonergan and Garrett Gorton, feel free to post your pro-Cam Talbot facebook statuses now!) I just knew, if the Rangers could give Talbot the same production they gave Hank during this 11/12 streak, I knew Cam would settle down. I would be right.
The Rangers said it in pre-game interviews. This game meant something. Which, as a Rangers fan, makes me perplexed why Hank didn’t want this game. Didn’t he want to avenge the biggest loss in his career? Yea, it’s a regular season game, but this game meant so much more than that. If you didn’t feel the playoff atmosphere watching at home, then I question your Rangers fandom. This was just as big as beating the Islanders, the Devils or winning a playoff round. This was redemption. This was a way to prove that the Rangers are the best fucking team in the NHL right now.
With the Rangers down 2-0 in the first period, and Jonathan Quick making huge saves on Rick Nash and Chris Kreider, Dan Boyle fired in a powerplay goal. Boyle started slow this season and had to fight injuries, but he’s getting into a rhythm now. Better to come on late than early in my eyes. Boyle is the quarterback of this PP and the Rangers have been on fucking FIRE on the powerplay as of late. Can you remember two years ago and that dreadful 2-48 in the playoffs PP? As a Rangers fan, I’m as giddy as a school boy seeing a chick naked right now. I can’t remember the PP being this hot.
The Rangers entered the second period down 2-1. It didn’t look pretty, as the Kings, just like in the Cup finals, used their muscle to physically dominate the Rangers. However, Kevin Klein came up huge with the Rangers second goal, knotting the score at 2-2.
I’ve said it all season, what a steal Sather made for Kevin Klein. You can argue the MSL & McDonagh trades were bigger, but Sather getting Klein for a wet diaper in MDZ was a huge trade in value. Klein leads the league for defensemen, in even strength goals. He has 3 GWG’s as well. He makes the big hits, he makes the clears and he has saved goals with his stick as well. He should get Norris consideration, at this point in the season, but a third line defenseman rarely does. To me, he’s the unsung hero of the Rangers. He is playing well above anyone’s expectations and exceeding the worth of his contract.
Before I could finish celebrating Klein’s goal, Lee Stempniak answered 19 seconds later giving the Rangers a 3-2 lead. It would be the game winning goal, as the Rangers added a fourth goal, due to last year’s playoff hero, Marty St. Louis. Callahan who anyone?
Like Lundqvist this season, Talbot made me sweat the last few minutes of this game, due to a late third period goal off the stick of Justin Williams. The Kings would get a 6 v 4 advantage, due to a Rick Nash penalty, with 36 seconds to go in this game. The Kings had a couple chances to tie the game, but KING TALBOT denied every opportunity, sealing a 4-3 Rangers victory, their 12th win out of 13 games.
With the win, the Rangers have third place in the Metropolitan division at 50 points. The Pens and Islanders, at 54 and 53 points respectively have played three more games. Theoretically, if the Rangers win the 3 games in hand, they are in first place. You have to love what you’re seeing from this team.
During this win streak, the Rangers have gotten great goaltending, amazing special teams and goal scoring from everyone on the roster. An AV favorite, in Tanner Glass, at $1.5 million a year, is being benched for the young guns in JT Miller & Jesper Fast. Fast & Miller have been producing, which is another reason why Anthony Duclair wasn’t brought up for the rest of the year. To be successful in the NHL, you need great goaltending, goal scoring and for your squad to play a complete 60 minutes. The Rangers are in the middle of the hottest streak in the NHL and firing on all cylinders. It’s hard to wipe the smile off of a Rangers fan’s face right now.
Cam Fucking Talbot. While starting off slow, due to playing infrequently, got his bearings back after the two quick LA goals in this game. Talbot made 28 saves, winning his fourth game in five starts. Talbot played great after the first two goals, shutting down many rushes and stopping many Rangers turnovers from potential goals. Talbot needs to play more. Talbot fanboy stuff aside, Hank needs to be healthy for the playoffs. Hank takes these easy starts against shit teams like the Sabres, Oilers, Hurricanes, etc, where Talbot should be getting the time.
Ranger players, as well as media close to the team, have said Talbot pressures Hank into playing better. Wasn’t long ago a young Mike Richter challenged Beezer for the starting job. Where I would love to see Talbot start for the Rangers, I know it won’t happen. However, Talbot should be playing more. Let’s truly see what we have with the kid.
The Rangers are in the middle of their toughest stretch of the season, facing three California teams on the road, before facing the Islanders then embarking on another 3 game road trip against Columbus, Pittsburgh and Boston. The Rangers are 2-0 on this west coast trip. History would be made, if they can beat San Jose, and sweep Cali.
The Rangers are the hottest team in NY right now. Where their co-tenants at MSG, the NY Knicks, are a complete fucking joke, the Rangers are bringing class and respectability to NY every night.
Big props to Christina Santiago, Vincent Carlo, John Alonzo and Stephanie Feiner, who like me, always say “ICWT- IN CAM WE TRUST!”
One more thing of a note, before wrapping this up until Sunday – how do you feel about Marc Staal? Staal is a free agent next year, and it’s going to be tough for the Rangers to keep him with King Contract. In my eyes, the Rangers are a playoff team and you don’t fuck with the mojo. Why deal him? The future is now. Let’s get that Cup.
It’s 3AM and I’m hopped up like a cokehead right now. Forever and always, ICWT! LGR!
@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter