With the season now over after a return to the playoffs and the Western Conference Finals, we're looking back at each player who wore the Indian Head sweater for the 08-09 Season and grading their performance. First up, Nikolai Khabibulin
#39 / Goalie / Chicago Blackhawks
Jan 13, 1973
Contract Status: UFA
|2008 - Nikolai Khabibulin||42||2467||25||8||7||1||96||2.33||1192||1096||.919||3|
The Good: Well, 4th in the league in GAA and 6th in SV% is hardly anything you can insult. Khabby proved what we always thought he was, a goaltender who would flourish when not asked to shoulder a heavy load, and he wasn't, garnering just over half the starts. At times Khabby was brilliant, and at times, not so much. But, as has been his M.O., in a free agent year, he came up trumps in the regular season.
In fact, according to Behind The Net, Khabby was the 7th best goalie in beating his expected SV% and GAA at even-strength, which is based on the quality of shots he was facing (Huet was 2nd) Khabby's expected SV% was .902, but his actual was .927, and his expected GAA 2.64, but threw up a 1.94, again, at even-strength.
The Bad: Well, the whole fiasco in training camp looked ugly, but that had nothing to do with Nik himself. Past that, there were the injuries, specifically the ones in February which exhausted Huet, and then in the playoffs. But mostly what was bad were the playoffs. Though Khabby deserved the nod when Game 1 against Calgary rolled around, only his first period in that game, Game 6 against the Flames, and the 2nd period in Game 1 against the Wings were anything to excited about. Aside from that, he was only slightly better than ordinary. Cleary's goal in Game 1 was an absolute killer, and his inability to stone that same man in Game 2 hurt. No, we don't expect goalies to make breakaway stops, but it certainly helps when they do.
Nicknames: Nik, Nikolai Harvey Birdman.
Playoff Beard Strength: Wouldn't know, under a mask
The Grade: Well, that's up to you. From this observer, I'd say a B would be in order, for a more than acceptable regular season, but what has to be a disappointing postseason.