Cam Talbot (left) and Zac Rinaldo played with each other in the OPJHL and against each other in the AHL. (AP)
Cam Talbot will make his NHL debut in goal Thursday night against the Flyers.
The 26-year-old Rangers goalie doesn’t know very much about the Flyers but he does know one guy very well -- Zac Rinaldo.
The two played with each other for Hamilton of the OPJHL and played against each other when Rinaldo was with the Phantoms and Talbot was in Hartford.
“We go back a little ways,” Talbot said. “But I haven’t talked to him in awhile.”
You've got to figure Rinaldo will give Talbot a few taps on the pads tonight at the Wells Fargo Center with his stick (see game notes).
“I can only imagine,” Talbot said. “It probably won’t be on the pads, though. I’m sure he knows where to go. Zac knows what he is doing and he’s pretty good at it. I gotta watch myself when he’s around me, for sure.”
This could be either a very competitive game or a very bad game given that both of these teams are mirror images of each other right now. Both are struggling to score and with injuries, though the Rangers’ injury list is far worse and deeper than the Flyers' (see story).
Talbot said he’s done some video work on the Flyers. It’s always tough for a rookie goaltender when he doesn’t know the shooters.
“Yes and no,” Talbot said. “You watch a lot of games on TV and we do a little game film around here, too,” he said.
“I’ve done a little work on them. I will play my own game, but pay a little more attention to their skill guys. For me, it’s jut trying to play within myself and hopefully it translates into a win.”
Talbot didn’t seem nervous at the morning skate. He’s playing because Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist has a “minor injury,” though nothing really stands out from Lundqvist’s last start at New Jersey.
That said, the Swede is off to a brutal start with a 2-4 record, inflated 3.45 goals against average and .890 save percentage.
With both the Flyers and Rangers at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, this game offers a lot of pressure to a rookie in net.
“I’m not nervous now but I am sure come game time, there will be some nerves,” Talbot said. “It’s gonna be loud and it’s a bigger stage than I am used to. Once I feel the puck a little bit, I should be able to settle myself down and get into the game.”
The Flyers' strategy is simple: Shoot. From everywhere at every opportunity.
“Bombard any goalie with shots,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said.