While a large portion of this fan base were ready to throw netminder Cam Talbot to the curb following a rather difficult stretch of games mere weeks into his Edmonton Oilers career, my guess is they are likely singing a different tune after watching the 28-year old do his thing over the past seven days. Anders Nilsson may have carried the load for the better part of six weeks, but it looks as though No. 33 is ready to reclaim his job as this team’s go-to-guy for the foreseeable future.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) December 22, 2015
Over the course of the Oilers last five games, Talbot has seized the opportunity that he was given and essentially forced Todd McLellan’s hand. While Nilsson has shown signs of cooling off of late, his goaltending partner has been headed in the complete opposite direction. After making all of three appearances in the month of November, the Caledonia native has posted a 2-1 record with a 2.32 GAA and .947 SV% over the last week, while stopping 124 of the 131 shots fired his way in games against the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, and Winnipeg Jets.
Cam Talbot Is Officially In the Zone
As good as he looked in helping Edmonton edge the Bruins 3-2 in the overtime on December 14th, his performance during last night’s 3-1 victory over the Jets was on a completely different level. From start to finish, Talbot was in the so-called “zone” and if not for a crazy bounce on Bryan Little’s second-period tally, we would be talking about his first shutout in Oilers silks. Despite facing a number of “Grade A” chances throughout the evening, the former 20-game winner looked to be almost daring shooters to try a beat.
When he has been on his game, Talbot has repeatedly displayed outstanding rebound control and a knack for rarely being caught out of position. However, he looked almost unbeatable against Winnipeg. Be it making a splendid pad save on an odd-man rush, fighting his way through traffic in order to find pucks or simply robbing players from point-blank range, it was all done with limited effort and with an attitude we had yet to see in any of his previous starts…and it was rather impressive to watch.
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From an individual standpoint, the Christmas Break could not have come a worse time for Talbot but the Oilers will be busy upon their return, playing four times in six nights starting with Saturday’s against with the floundering Vancouver Canucks. It would be safe to assume we will see No. 33 go head to head with Ryan Miller on December 26th, with Nilsson getting the nod on the very next night against the surging Calgary Flames.
Should the former New York Ranger continue his strong play, chances are he will get the starting assignment against both the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings to close out 2015 and look to extend Edmonton’s home-ice winning streak to either a franchise-tying eight-straight or perhaps even set a new standard with nine consecutive wins. Which would certainly be one heck of a way to bring in the New Year for both Cam Talbot and the Edmonton Oilers.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.