Can't blame Talbot for Blueshirts blunders

NEW YORK -- Rangers coach Alain Vigneault declined to announce Thursday's starting goaltender, though it did not carry nearly the same subtext as when he did the same this past weekend.

Had Cam Talbot delivered a 35-save shutout against the Jets, things might have felt different, but it is almost impossible to imagine that Vigneault will not return to regular starter Henrik Lundqvist for Thursday's game against the Buffalo Sabres.

That isn't to say that Talbot won't continue to push Lundqvist -- his steadiness and poise between the pipes has been more than just a pleasant surprise for the Rangers -- or that he played terribly in the team's 5-2 loss Monday night -- really, the team was altogether shoddy in front of him -- but we can probably put to bed any thoughts of a full-fledged goalie controversy for the time being.

Awarded his second straight start ahead of Lundqvist, Talbot surrendered four goals in the team's demoralizing defeat Monday -- the first time in his eight NHL starts he gave up more than two goals.

He was not to blame for the team's uninspired effort, but he didn't stand on his head, either.

"I felt alright, but still not where I wanted to be tonight," he said. "I can't expect the guys to go out there and score five goals for me every night, so I've got to do a better job of eliminating their opportunities and just do a better job of clearing them."

Vigneault was lukewarm when asked about Talbot's performance, but made it clear he was not the sole culprit.

"Obviously, he didn't make the same amount of saves as he has done in the past," Vigneault said, "but we certainly made his life challenging tonight by the way we played in front of him."