Wild benched goaltender Cam Talbot in playoffs. Will there be repercussions?
After falling behind 3-2 in the series against the St. Louis Blues, the Wild turned to Talbot on the brink of elimination.
ST. PAUL — Whenever goaltender Cam Talbot comes up in conversation, Wild coach Dean Evason always seems to use the same word to describe him.
The way Talbot prepares? Professional. The way Talbot carries himself during games? Professional. The way Talbot handled being benched for fellow goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in the playoffs? Professional.
The latter will now be among the biggest talking points of this offseason.
After falling behind 3-2 in the series against the St. Louis Blues, the Wild finally turned to Talbot last week on the brink of elimination. It was a tough position for Talbot to say the least, and while he battled, the Wild bowed out of the playoffs with a 5-1 loss to the Blues.
“I was doing everything I could to stay ready,” said Talbot, who stopped 22 of 26 shots in the Game 6 loss. “They gave me the opportunity and it just wasn’t good enough.”
Not surprisingly, Talbot’s teammates quickly came to his defense postgame.
“The way he played was phenomenal,” alternate captain Marcus Foligno said. “It’s definitely got to be tough for a guy to come in without seeing the shots. Give him credit for that.”
No doubt the most frustrating part for Talbot is he was very good down the stretch. He finished the regular season on a 13-0-3 run before the Wild decided Fleury gave them a better chance to win in the playoffs.
What were those conversations like?
“That’s between the coaching staff, myself and Flower,” said Talbot, who still has one year left on his contract. “Was I disappointed? Yeah. Was I pissed off? Yeah. But they expected that. Who doesn’t want to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs? But I respected the decision.”
Though it’d be unfair to place the blame solely on Fleury, especially considering the Wild struggled offensively throughout the first round, it’s fair to wonder if things would’ve gone different with Talbot between the pipes for a majority of the series.
In the immediate aftermath of the Game 6 loss, even Evason used the term “second guess” when talking about lineup decisions throughout the series.
“We will have to sit down and evaluate if it was or if it wasn’t the right decision,” Evason said. “It’s too soon right now to dig into that.”
As for Talbot, he continued to remain professional postgame, to the surprise of no one.
Asked after Game 6 if he’d be able to look past the fact that the Wild benched him in the playoffs, Talbot replied, “Ask me in a couple more days after I process this.” In that same breath, Talbot heaped praise on this team.
“This is a special group,” Talbot said. “As much as that hurt, this is still a group that I believe in and a group that I’d like to be a part of.”
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