ST. PAUL -- When the dust settled on Wednesday’s win over the New Jersey Devils, it seemed only right that Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot was in the middle of the celebration. After standing on his head throughout the game, Talbot stopped a shootout attempt from Devils center Yegor Sharangovich to secure the win.
“We loved our goaltender,” Wild coach Dean Evason said postgame. “If he’s not doing what he’s doing, it’s a different story out there.”
It would be surprising if it weren’t so predictable.
On a night defined by chaos — the Wild got stuck in traffic in New York City and arrived at the Prudential Center so late that the NHL actually had to delay the start time — Talbot provided a sense of calm between the pipes. Just like he’s done ever since he arrived in the Twin Cities.
“He was awesome,” winger Marcus Foligno said. “He played unbelievable all game and was a big reason why we obviously won that hockey game. That’s him. Not too many things faze him. He’s kind of the face of our team when it comes to (staying) even keel. He played awesome tonight.”
Nevermind that Talbot didn’t get to go through his pregame routine. He usually starts game nights with a warmup on the bike followed by some activation exercises and, finally, some stretching with assistant athletic trainer Travis Green.
“There was no time for really any of that,” Talbot said. “It was pretty much get dressed, tape a stick, and get the pads on.”
How did he settle in so quickly?
“Just tried to come in here and not overthink anything, just go out there and control what I can control,” Talbot said. “That’s all I can do in a game like that. That was my mindset coming into it and I feel like I was able to execute that.”
To no surprise from his teammates. They have come to expect those types of performances out of Talbot over the past couple of seasons.
“He’s a pro’s pro,” center Nico Sturm said. “You could say as a goaltender, I’m sure of groins, hips, he’d like a little more warmup action before the game. But he’s among the most dialed-in guys on the team, so I wasn’t surprised.”
Asked about his overall performance so far this season, Talbot admitted his numbers aren’t exactly where he’d like them to be. There’s room for improvement when it comes to his 2.87 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. But Talbot also has 10 wins this season, and that’s something he can hang his hat on. He trails only Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (11) and Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen (11) for the league lead in that category.
“I feel like I’m trending in the right direction,” Talbot said. “And the win column is what it is and that’s what’s most important for myself and for the team. Anytime we’re winning games, the numbers are irrelevant. I’ll take the wins as they come. That’s all that matters.”
And while he will be ready for Friday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets at Xcel Energy Center, Talbot was very much looking forward to spending Thanksgiving with his family.
“It’s been a grind lately being away for so many days,” he said. “It’s going to be nice to relax at home with my kids and my wife. It’s what I’m most thankful for to begin with.”
Meanwhile, the Wild are most thankful for him.