Cam Talbot exudes a palpable sense of calm when trapped between the pipes of the Wild. This is something that Coach Dean Evason and his teammates often talk about, as does General Manager Bill Guerin and even some opponents playing Wild.
It got to the point that the 34-year-old goalkeeper was nicknamed Calm Talbot. It may not be the smartest nickname in the world, but it’s so on the nose that it doesn’t matter.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about Talbot’s demeanor is how he was able to act the same way last season under tough conditions.
After signing with Wild in the midst of the pandemic, and then rushing to the Twin Cities a few days after Christmas to begin a shortened 56-game season, Talbot very rarely felt settled away from the rink.
“You had a week to get the kids to school, get some COVID tests, and then go out on the ice with the guys,” said Talbot, who finished last season with a 19-8-5 record, 2.63. Goals versus average and 0.915 percent saves amid chaos.
Needless to say, the preseason went a lot easier this time around as Talbot arrived in the twin cities about a month before the start of training camp. He recalls a smile to himself as he and his wife Kelly loaded the car with their daughter Sloane and their son Landon in the back seat.
“They were delighted to be back,” said Talbot, who lives in his native Canada during the offseason. “It’s great to see the kids so excited about the 14-hour trip. This is not something that children always like. They were happy to see their old friends and all that again, and to find new friends at school. ”
Consoling his family this season has made Talbot comfortable going to the rink every day.
“It’s a lot more normal, I think we could say this season than the last couple of seasons,” Talbot said. “It was definitely nice to be here early and get comfortable.”
The question is, if Talbot was so impressive last season with such a big influx, what could he do for an encore this season when things have gotten more orderly?
This is something to look out for as Wild kicks off a new chapter in the franchise this season. Gone are the former faces of the franchise, Zach Paris and Ryan Suter, and for the first time in more than a decade, a completely different team is felt on the ice.
“I’m thrilled to see what this group is capable of,” Talbot said. “Last season we made a big step forward. I don’t know if anyone other than us in this room expected what we did last season. We also believe in this room this season. It will be fun to return to a full season of 82 games. It’s nice to return to normal life here. ”
Whatever happens this season, Wild can only count on Talbot to remain calm in the folds. This is what he learned early in his career as a backup to the legendary Henrik Lundqvist. He also thanked longtime New York Rangers goalkeeping coach Benoit Allaire for helping him develop these skills.
“He played a huge role in my career,” Talbot said. “He calms himself. There was never any panic in his voice. He has a very positive attitude. He just annoys people so much. He helped me become a little calmer and more patient. ”
This has always been the focus of Talbot’s focus because, as he has learned throughout his NHL career, the team usually acts like its goalkeeper throughout the game.
If a goalkeeper is constantly stretching out in search of saves, his teammates will be fueled by this chaotic energy, and very rarely in a good way. If the goalkeeper is cool, calm and collected between the pipes, his teammates will feel comfortable playing the simple game themselves.
As enthusiastic as his teammates were about him, Talbot was quick to give them credit for his stellar stats last season.
“This band is easy to play,” he said. “It’s just so easy to read. It all starts with six guys in front of me, and obviously the attackers play a big role too. We have an excellent lineup of experienced, persistent and skillful guys ahead of us. You mix that with our top six players in the backend and the goalkeeper has nothing to do. My job is to go out and stop the blows that I have to stop and give us a chance to win. For such a group, they made it easier for me. ”
However, Talbot has proven to be capable of making big saves at the most critical moments. Throughout the Vegas Golden Knights playoff streak last season – Wilde lost his heartthrob in Game 7 of the first round of the series – Talbot single-handedly kept his team in it.
“I’m not going to do too much or try to replay certain situations,” he said. “I try to be as calm and patient as possible and let the play come to me. The guys in front of me make it much easier because they are so easy to read and they are calm themselves. We don’t have many guys who panic under pressure. ”
As things are slowly bouncing this season, Talbot has no plans to change his playstyle. He also made it clear that he wants to play as much as possible.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s one by one or every other day with travels,” Talbot said. “I feel my best when I ride. You really don’t have a chance to think. You just go there and play. Whether it’s a good game the night before, or even a rough game, it’s even better to get back into the game, leave it behind and have another solid start under your belt. ”