Lesson learned: Rangers' Talbot knows he can carry starter's role
Brad Penner / USA TODAY Sports

Back in December, Cam Talbot couldn't have imagined a Brad Malone shot rising up underneath the mask of Henrik Lundqvist, causing damage to a blood vessel in his throat. 

Talbot couldn't picture a 16-4-3 record during a 25-game run as a starter, lifting the New York Rangers out from the middle of the Metropolitan Division standing to tops in the league.

He couldn't imagine picking up the pieces like this.

It was an opportunity seized, but impossible to predict. That's why Talbot signed a modest one-year extension to remain Lundqvist's back-up through 2017 a few days before Christmas. 

In hindsight, the decision will prevent him from earning a major payday this summer, but he won't be empty-handed when Lundqvist returns to the crease this weekend.

"I take that now I can carry the load of a starting goalie," Talbot told reporters after Thursday's win over the Ottawa Senators.

"I think that I proved I can play well in long stretches as opposed to spot starts every couple of weeks. That's a big confidence boost for me. It was a great run. If Henke is ready to go, it's going to be his net. I'm just happy for the opportunity I got the past seven or eight weeks."

The Rangers will maintain quality insurance for this season and next, but like their backup goaltender, they've surely become aware themselves. 

Talbot has proved he's destined for a starter's role down the line, whether it's in New York or elsewhere.

Lesson learned: Rangers' Talbot knows he can carry starter's role
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