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Talbot must be better if Oilers are to rebound from poor start


Craig Hagerman

38m ago

Abbie Parr / Getty Images Sport / Getty

It was another forgettable outing for Cam Talbot on Tuesday night.

The Edmonton Oilers netminder saw just 7:35 of ice time before head coach Todd McLellan yanked him from the game after Talbot conceded two goals on the first three St. Louis Blues shots he faced.

Talbot’s season hasn’t been as prolific as it was one year ago. His second season as Edmonton’s true No. 1 goalie was everything fans could have hoped for. He played a league-high 73 games and matched Washington Capitals starter Braden Holtby with 42 wins.

He was the team’s most valuable player not named Connor McDavid, rocking a .919 save percentage while allowing an average of just 2.39 goals per game. And he played a monumental role in helping the Oilers reach the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.

Now in his third season as the team’s go-to shot-stopper, Talbot has failed to replicate last season’s success through the first 19 games of the 2018 campaign.

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

With Tuesday’s game in the books, Talbot now sits with a .900 save percentage and a 3.19 goals against average – the 27th- and 28th-best marks, respectively, among the 33 goalies to play at least 10 games this season. Those numbers are simply not good enough for a team once expected to challenge for the Stanley Cup this season.

And at this point, the playoffs appear to be a pipe dream for the Oilers.

The club has been a disaster early on. Edmonton sits tied for the third-worst record in the league and is riding the 29th-best offense, averaging just 2.38 goals per game. But to their credit, the Oilers are allowing the fifth-fewest shots against per game and are firing the eighth-most, so they’ve done a good job at keeping the action in their opponent’s end.

The problem has been the production up front, or lack thereof. Through 21 games, only six players have managed more than three goals.

Without the Oilers scoring on a regular basis, Talbot will need to get his play back on track for this team to win. The club has made it quite clear they don’t have a ton of faith in Laurent Brossoit – at least not yet anyway – as Talbot has played in 90 percent of the Oilers’ games this season, so they may be prepared to stick with the 30-year-old regardless of the results.

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