NASHVILLE - The University of Alabama in Huntsville, where Cam Talbot played college hockey, is a 90-minute drive from Music Row.
Although the Chargers never played at Bridgestone Arena when the Rangers' backup goalie was on the team, Talbot and his pals would occasionally drive north for a night on the town.
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"Love country music," said the 26-year-old rookie from Ontario. "Nothing I like better than listening to just a guitarist in a small club playing and singing. We saw some guys who are becoming well-known now, like Chris Jones. And one night we met Kid Rock in a bar and the crowd talked him into doing some songs."
Talbot blanked Montreal in his last start and is 4-1 with a 1.58 goals-against average and a heady .945 save percentage. He has a chance to shine Saturday night on the sports stage when he faces the Predators in the second game of the Rangers' five-game road trip.
"Unfortunately, all the coaches I had are not there anymore and all the players have all graduated," said Talbot, who thought someone was playing a joke on him when UAH called him. "They flew me down for a visit and I loved the school and I loved being down here."
Alain Vigneault's decision to start Talbot, which was revealed after practice Friday, is a little surprising, coming in the wake of Henrik Lundqvist's 42-save performance in a 3-2 defeat of the Stars, which included a 23-save first period.
From the bench in Dallas, Talbot was wide-eyed. "I'm just kind of in awe watching him sometimes. It's like, 'how the hell can he do that?' Any time a goalie plays like that, a team always has a chance to win . . . I'm just trying to follow in his footsteps . . . I don't really look at it as competition between me and him. I just look at it as an opportunity to play again."
Talbot does have experience facing a barrage. He once faced 28 shots in the second period against Wisconsin in a 5-0 loss during his sophomore year.
"They outshot us 60 to 10," Talbot recalled. "I got pulled after 55 shots with 10 minutes left. It was a mercy pulling. They were missing seven of their top players who were at the World Juniors. It could've been worse. It was only 2-nothing after the second period, so we had a chance."
Another chance to win, which Talbot has provided so far, is all Vigneault can ask for Saturday.