In 2016-17, Cam Talbot led the upstart Edmonton Oilers into the Stanley Cup playoffs, where they lost in a second-round, game-seven thriller. Only a season prior, Talbot had come from the New York Rangers to the Oilers and had rounded into a solid and hard-working goalie who seemed destined to carry a young Oilers’ roster to great things. In that storied 2016-17 season, Talbot played 73 games and had a record of 42-22-8.
The next season, things fell apart for Talbot and for the Oilers, and the team descended into a dark period in its history. The Oilers are only emerging this season from two years of deep darkness, never being able to come close to the promise of that one thrilling 2016-17 season.
As far as Talbot is concerned, he played one more mediocre season (with a record of 31-31-3) with the Oilers then went to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2018-19 and found his way to the Flames prior to the 2019-20 season.
Talbot’s Season with the Flames
Talbot’s 2019-20 season started slowly. At the start of December, Talbot hadn’t been in a game in more than two weeks. He wasn’t playing well at all and was clearly the backup goalie to starter David Rittich. In fact, his record (1-5-0, with a goals-against-average of 3.23 and a .893 save percentage) suggested that he really didn’t deserve to play much. In short, his season left a lot to be desired.
However, after almost three weeks between games, on December 7 Talbot got into a game against the Los Angeles Kings. After so much time off, he wasn’t sharp and gave up two goals in the first four minutes of the first period. Then, things started to change. The Flames got four straight goals and Talbot made them stand up in a 4-3 win.
On December 10 against the Arizona Coyotes, Talbot got his second start in three games. Interim head coach Geoff Ward gave him another chance and he made the best of it by stopping 46 of 48 shots in a 5-2 win. Talbot played well and for the first time in the season had won two starts in a row. His record improved to 3-5-0 (still not great) but his goals-against average dipped to 3.05 and his save percentage jumped to .907.
But Talbot’s success didn’t last. On December 17, he got a home-game start against the Pittsburgh Penguins and lost 4-1. Then in a game on December 23, he gave up only two goals but his team couldn’t get anything past the Minnesota Wild’s Devan Dubnyk and the Flames lost 3-0. [The last Wild goal was scored into an empty net.]
On December 29, Talbot replaced David Rittich in a 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. He allowed a goal in that relief effort but the team was already behind and couldn’t come back.
On January 2, he got a start against the team that gave him his first NHL start – the New York Rangers. Talbot stopped 24 of 27 shots and won the game by a 4-3 score. He started again against the Chicago Blackhawks on January 7 and only allowed one goal for a 2-1 victory. The Blackhawks had been surging and had won four of its last five games. But Talbot stoned them by allowing only one goal on 32 shots in the 2-1 win.
Talbot’s Most Recent Game
Tonight in a goalie duel against the Wild again, Talbot beat fellow goalie Alex Stalock 2-1. Talbot made 42 saves and again had won back-to-back wins. In the previous game, he had stopped 32 shots to beat the Blackhawks in two nights before for a 2-1 victory.
With that victory, the Calgary goalie helped his team keep pace with Oilers in the Pacific Division. Both teams have identical 24-17-5 (53 points) records in 46 games. Better yet for the Flames, Talbot’s game is coming around and he’s showing the same form that made him a star with the Oilers only three seasons ago.
What’s the Potential of Talbot Going Forward?
Where that puts Talbot right now is anyone’s guess. He probably remains the backup goalie, but he’s certainly more viable than he was in late November. He’s proven that he can play with the best goalies in the NHL.
Now he just has to do that consistently if he wants to ensure Calgary’s entry into the postseason race.