Can the Kings win by doing ‘the Vegas thing’ with their goaltending?
Los Angeles Kings goalie Cam Talbot wanted to earn his new teammates’ trust.
It was a late-October game against the Arizona Coyotes. Talbot had replaced Pheonix Copley, who gave up three goals on six shots after just eight minutes in the first period. Talbot then let in a goal on the first shot that he faced.
Back in the dressing room, Talbot spoke to the team. “I told the guys that’s all that’s going to get by me. Just play our game and we’re going to have a chance to come back here,” he said.
Talbot was a man of his word, stopping all 17 shots he faced in the next 40 minutes to enable a three-goal, third-period rally in the Kings’ 5-4 victory.
“That shows the character, experience and resiliency in this group,” he said.
It also shows what competent goaltending can do for the Los Angeles Kings.
The Kings have a deep roster filled with impact veterans and dynamic younger players. Analytically, they were one of the best defensive teams in the NHL last season. They are a Stanley Cup contender out of the Western Conference — provided that trust in their goaltending is rewarded.
There’s Talbot, a 36-year-old playing for his sixth team in six seasons. They have Copley, 32, who played 37 games in a breakout season with Los Angeles. Down a level in the AHL they have David Rittich, 31. a journeyman who last played for the Winnipeg Jets.
The group’s defining characteristic might be its cap number: $3.375 million combined this season. If “Goaltender” was a single player on the Kings’ roster, it would have the 11th-highest cap hit on the team.