Hartnett: Lundqvist Hampered By Mystery Injury, Opening Door For Talbot
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By Sean Hartnett
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Henrik Lundqvist missed practice Wednesday for the third straight day. Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault later confirmed that backup Cam Talbot will start against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
“He’s not playing tomorrow,” Vigneault said of Lundqvist. “Cam’s going tomorrow. I already told him today at practice. (Henrik) is not gonna be the backup either. If this would have been a playoff game, he would probably be playing. It’s something that’s day-to-day that we think we can nip in bud. It might take a day, maybe one more day or two, but it’s something that he can turn the page on and you won’t hear about it anymore.”
Vigneault confirmed that Lundqvist will travel with the Rangers (2-5-0). He described the injury as an “irritation.”
“It’s something he’s had for maybe 10 days. It wasn’t anything significant, (Henrik) played real well in Washington. It acted up a little bit after the Jersey game,” Vigneault said. “When he got back the next day, he felt it more.”
Outside of a brief cameo on Tuesday when he tested out a pair of new skates minus the rest of his equipment, Lundqvist has not been on the ice at the Rangers’ Tarrytown practice facility this week and Vigneault said he has no intentions of rushing his franchise goaltender back.
“We’re trying to get him to be as healthy as any player can be during the regular season,” Vigneault said on Tuesday. “You’re never at 100 percent. That’s impossible in this game. Hopefully, he’ll be as close to it as he can be.”
The Rangers have yet to make a roster move. Vigneault confirmed Jason Missiaen will be the backup goalie when the Rangers face the Flyers. Lundqvist will travel with the team to Philadelphia and Detroit before the Rangers return home ahead of their Oct. 28 home opener against the Montreal Canadiens.
VIGNEAULT CONFIDENT TALBOT CAN HANDLE THE PRESSURE
Vigneault said he is highly confident in Talbot’s ability to handle the fast pace of the NHL and expects the rest of the Rangers to turn their games up a notch.
“I’m hoping that our players are gonna rally around this young man who’s getting this first opportunity to play in an NHL game,” Vigneault said. “It’s a moment that he’ll remember the rest of his life. Hopefully, there will be many other good ones after.”
Vigneault said Talbot stood out throughout training camp. Before recalling Talbot from Hartford of the AHL, Vigneault watched the 26-year-old play for the Wolf Pack against the Manchester Monarchs on Friday. Vigneault said he came away thoroughly impressed.
“I’ve seen a couple of his games on tape in Hartford and I saw one live. (He) played extremely-well. The Hartford game that I saw, they were down by two. Manchester had a 5-on-3. They had numerous chances. In overtime, he was the difference,” Vigneault said on Tuesday.
The Rangers will need to lean on Talbot, not only because of Lundqvist’s injury, but also because of a packed upcoming schedule.
“That’s a position where you have to be a competitor,” Vigneault said. “If we need him to play – we’re gonna need him to play here. We’ve got eight games in 15 nights. If we need him to play whether it’s Thursday or after that, I’m confident he’s gonna be real good for us.”
TALBOT EXCITED BY LIFELONG DREAM DEBUT
The 26-year-old will certainly be thrown into the fire, as he will quickly find himself in a high-charged atmosphere in a rivalry game on the road.
“I’m extremely excited,” Talbot said. “I mean, it’s every kid’s dream to play in the NHL. It’s extremely exciting for me. I can’t wait until that time comes.”
Talbot said his work ethic is one of his strongest attributes.
“My work ethic is one of the things that got me to this point,” Talbot said. “I’m not going to stop now, I’m just going to keep on working harder and continue to push myself and continue to get better.”
Goaltending coach Benoit Allaire has constantly been in Talbot’s ear passing along advice. Talbot said he appreciates the wisdom that the “goalie guru” has offered.
“I think there’s always things you can tweak, no matter what level you’re at,” Talbot said. “There’s always little things that he comes up and tells me after each drill. He just says work on them in practice, but when it comes game time — you go out and play your game. That’s what I’ll try to do.”
Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey
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