Anton Khudobin gave up only two goals on 36 shots in yesterday’s Game 5 overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights. It was an incredible Western Conference Final for the 34-year-old goalie from Kazakhstan. Every once in a while, an unknown goalie rises up to lead his team on a long Stanley Cup journey. Khudobin has done just that.
Khudobin’s Success During the Western Conference Final Series
Khudobin finished the Western Conference Final by saving all but eight of 161 shots he faced in the series against the favorite Golden Knights. What makes his story so interesting is that he’s sort of come from nowhere and is doing his tremendous goaltending exactly the right time for his next contract.
Good timing. He’s on an expiring contract and after this season, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. Someone is likely to back up the Brinks and sign him on a contract that includes a substantial raise over the $2.5 million he’s currently earning.
Now Khudobin and his Dallas teammates await the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders Eastern conference series.
Khudobin Reminds Tyler Seguin of Tim Thomas
Khudobin has impressed his teammates, including Tyler Seguin who noted, “He’s just coming into his own. He’s always been that goalie in practice that you don’t love shooting on because you don’t score much. He reminds me of a guy named Tim Thomas a little bit. He’s competitive, he works hard and he’s getting the job done.”
Seguin played with Thomas when he was with the Boston Bruins. The two were on the 2011 Stanley Cup-winning Bruins team. So, comparing Khudobin to Thomas suggests just how impressed Seguin is.
Others seem equally as impressed. Khudobin’s been spectacular and, should his team win the Cup, he must be considered a Conn Smythe candidate. Since taking over for injured Dallas starter Ben Bishop, he’s just not going to allow Bishop back into the net – even if he were able to return.
Ben Bishop Is Not Likely to Return During the Playoffs
But the last word is that Bishop is far from returning. He’s only been in three postseason games and hasn’t played since Game 5 of the Stars’ second-round series against Colorado. That evening Bishop lasted less than 15 minutes and gave up four goals on 19 shots – he clearly wasn’t ready. As a result, given what we know now, the job is Khudobin’s until he can’t play any longer.
And that seems good for the Stars. Khudobin’s record in the postseason is 12-6 with a goals-against-average of 2.62 GAA and a save percentage of .920. Interestingly, when he’s made at least 30 saves in a postseason game, his record is a perfect 8-0. He obviously likes to be busy. (from “Stars 20/20: The Dallas Stars have advanced to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, Sean Shapiro, The Athletic, 14/09/20).
It’s Fun to Watch a Hot Goalie
It’s always fun to watch a hot goalie during any Stanley Cup finals. Good luck to Khudobin and his teammates. Should he continue this hot play and his teammates rally around him, there’s a good chance the Stars will be aligning to win the Cup. If so, Khudobin might just win the Conn Smythe.
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