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Wild goaltender Cam Talbot reminding everyone who he is

Talbot has been a calming presence between the pipes as well as an incredible teammate in the locker room.

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Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot (33) defends his net against Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell (67) in the first period at Xcel Energy Center on Monday, March 22, 2021. David Berding / USA TODAY Sports
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Remember a few weeks ago when Wild Twitter wanted goaltender Cam Talbot relegated to a backup role? It’s laughable in hindsight.

Just as that narrative started to take form with rookie goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen playing out of his mind, Talbot responded with arguably his best stretch of the season. He steered the Wild to a couple of wins over the lowly Anaheim Ducks last week, then followed it up with a 37-save shutout in a win over the St. Louis Blues.

It’s the type of performance general manager Bill Guerin envisioned when he signed Talbot to be the No. 1 goaltender this offseason. It’s also the type of performance Talbot knew he could provide if a team trusted him to be the No. 1 goaltender.

“I think I was able to showcase myself last year (with the Calgary Flames) when I was given the opportunity,” Talbot said. “Obviously caught the eye of the Wild here. Just trying to reward their confidence in me over the summer.”

It’s been a perfect match as Talbot has been a calming presence between the pipes as well as an incredible teammate in the locker room. As coach Dean Evason put it, “Not only a quality, quality goaltender but a quality, quality person.”

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“It doesn’t seem like he’s like, ‘Oh I have to be the No.1 guy,” ” Evason added. “He wants to give his hockey club a chance to win every night, and when Kahkonen is in there, he supports him, and is positive and a professional. He’s doing everything that management knew what we were going to do.”

As good as Talbot has been for the Wild this season, it took him some time for him to get going. He suffered a lower-body injury a couple of months ago that forced him to miss some time, then tested positive for COVID shortly after returning to the lineup.

Fortunately for Talbot, he’s been able to move past both situations, and he’s finally gaining some traction with a 9-5-1 record, a 2.34 goals against average, and a .925 save percentage.

“Just getting back in the groove here has been has been nice,” Talbot said. “Hopefully, there’s no more hiccups and I can continue to stay healthy and continue to roll.”

If he can continue to roll, the Wild will be in a good spot heading into the final 24 games of the regular season. In the meantime, though, Talbot admitted after his most recent win that he was very much looking forward to the three-day break.

“We are definitely in need of these days off,” he said. “Take a couple days to regroup here and come back on Sunday ready to practice and put the work boots back on.”

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