Elections in the United States can be funny things. The way citizen’s vote can be foolish, and the outcomes can sometimes make both sides scratch their heads in astonishment. Over the past few weeks, however, the citizens of Rangerstown used their better judgement and made the only choice that made sense by voting Cam Talbot as the recipient of this year’s Steven McDonald Extra-Effort Award.
Cam Talbot deserved that…fans voted well.
— FullTilt Rangers (@NYR_FullTilt) April 6, 2015
The award, which was first given out in 1988, is named in honor of NYPD officer Steven McDonald who was paralyzed in the line of duty. Awarded on a yearly basis, the winner is the Rangers player that the fans deem the one who has gone “above and beyond the normal call of duty.”
This year, Cam Talbot fit that to a tee, for where would this Rangers team be right now if it weren’t for his outstanding play in relief of “The King?”
Only the third goaltender the win the award alongside John Vanbiesbrouck and Henrik Lundqvist, Talbot emerged as the clear front-runner following his play after Lundqvist went down with a neck injury which sidelined him for nearly two months. Over that time, Talbot rose up to the challenge by winning 16 of his 23 starts, and recording two shutouts.
At the time, the injury to Lundqvist was one which in theory should have sunk the team’s chances at a high playoff seed, but thanks to the consistent play of Talbot between the pipes, the Rangers didn’t miss a beat, as they continued their rise to the top of the standings.
Now, with Lundqvist back and returning to top form in net for the Blueshirts, the Rangers are just one point from clinching the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and two points from winning the President’s Trophy, something that seemed anything but possible just two short months ago, but was made a potential reality thanks to the “Goal Buster.”
As Derek Stepan, who netted the late game-tying goal as well as the overtime winner against Columbus in last evening’s contest at Madison Square Garden, told Blueshirtsunited.com, he was in full support of the fans’ choice of voting Talbot as this year’s winner:
“I think the fans did a wonderful job selecting him because he is a big part of our team,” Stepan said. “I don’t know how many games he ended up playing when Hank was hurt, and to be able to do what we did and for him to step in and play the way he did is a big reason why we have a chance to win the President’s Trophy tomorrow.”
Talbot, on the other hand, was humble in nature and made sure to credit his teammates as well for the overall success of the squad during the absence of Lundqvist, but did also tell Al Trautwig of MSG Network’s what an incredible honor it was to have been voted as this year’s winner by the fans.
A special honor for Talbot indeed, but equally as deserving. In 35 total appearances this season, he’s accumulated a 20-9-4 record, with a 2.21 goals against average, a 0.926 save percentage, and five shutouts.
Cam Talbot had huge shoes to fill when Lundqvist was hurt, and he filled them admirably. Because of that, the Rangers just might have a belated President’s Day celebration this evening in Newark.
Jake Gittler is now in his second season as a contributing member of The Hockey Writers. After spending the 2014-15 season working in Communications for Adirondack Flames of the AHL and covering the New York Rangers here for The Hockey Writers, Jake’s coverage has been switched over to the Colorado Avalanche for the 2015-16 season. Jake can be reached via email at Jakegittler@gmail.com, or on Twitter @Jgittler_hockey.