Rangers backup goalie Cam Talbot expected to start against Wild
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MINNEAPOLIS - After a 3-1 loss to the struggling Hurricanes on Tuesday, the Rangers didn't wait long to make some changes.
Backup goalie Cam Talbot will start tonight against the Wild, coach Alain Vigneault experimented with different defense pairs in practice and the Rangers signed a free-agent college forward, Ryan Haggerty, 21, who led the ECAC in scoring with 28 goals in 35 games.
Talbot, whose last start was a 32-save, 2-1 victory against the Blackhawks at the MSG on Feb. 27, the first game after the Olympic break, is 11-5-0, with a 1.75 GAA and a .938 save percentage. Six of Talbot's wins have come right after a Rangers loss. Henrik Lundqvist likely will play against the Jets in the second game of a back-to-back tomorrow in Winnipeg.
Vigneault, who ripped his team's effort after Tuesday's loss, previously indicated that both goalies would play on the trip. Talbot has played in consecutive games three times, once when Lundqvist was injured in late October, although he allowed four goals in a loss to the Jets at home on Dec. 2.
Vigneault, who said last week that it was not a time for "experimentation," may have shifted his stance on that because the turnovers and sloppy play were equally divided against the Hurricanes.
Defenseman Raphael Diaz, who was acquired from Vancouver last Wednesday but hasn't made his Rangers debut, skated with John Moore, and Kevin Klein skated with Justin Falk. Falk hasn't played in 2014.
Vigneault said he was unsure which six blueliners would dress against the Wild. With both Brad Richards and Mats Zuccarello given maintenance days, Vigneault called it a good opportunity to see Diaz on the second power-play unit.
With Zuccarello and Richards out, the practice lines were mixed and it was unclear if Vigneault intended to juggle the trios Thursday night. Meanwhile, Haggerty, a junior at RPI who signed a three-year entry-level contract, will join the club in New York this weekend. The native of Stamford, Conn., is a 6-foot, 200-pound righthanded shot.
Haggerty also had 15 assists for 43 points this season and led the ECAC in shots on goal with 161. He will surely get a look but is not eligible for the playoffs if the Rangers (35-27-4, 74 points) get there, because he was not on the reserve list last Wednesday.
With 16 games to play, the Rangers are in second place in the Metropolitan Division, a point ahead of Columbus and Philadelphia, who each have a game in hand. The top three teams in each division automatically qualify for the postseason; the two teams in the conference with the highest points after that are wild cards. The Wild (34-22-9, 77 points) hold the first wild card in the West.