Sometimes it’s difficult to remember that the Dallas Stars had two goalies who underwent offseason surgery. Ben Bishop’s knee procedure made headlines, and his complete recovery could extend into early April. But in the meantime, neither Anton Khudobin’s hand operation, nor his late-autumn bout with COVID-19, have stopped the Kazakh Scorpion from putting up some of the NHL’s best stats.
Three games into the 2021 season, Khudobin leads the league with a 0.99 goals-against average and is second in save percentage at .958. Stars senior staff writer Mike Heika writes about how he’s segued seamlessly from the Stanley Cup playoffs into his current hot start:
Khudobin has been a backup for most of his career, so carrying the load is a bit new. However, he said playing in 25 of 27 playoff games helped get him ready for this season. He currently is not on the ice on off days, and instead sharpens his game with morning skates.
“We played like this in Edmonton, in bubble,” Khudobin said of his routine. “We played every other day, so I like to get sweat and feel the puck in the morning before the game. And when you’re playing every other day, next day (after game), you take a rest, do something in the gym. But (before game), I like to get the feel of the ice, like to get the feel of the skates, equipment, puck … and then just play.”
Even Dobby will need rest eventually, and that’s where Jake Oettinger comes in. His first NHL start will come sooner rather than later, and the budding Star says he’s ready:
Oettinger served as a backup in the playoff bubble and has been a big part of practices for months, so he knows his teammates. He said that’s been helpful in keeping him calm about his first start.
“I just feel like I’m a part of the team and I belong out there,” Oettinger said. “To have a good relationship with all the guys is obviously really important for a comfort level. All the work that I put in in the bubble has just made me so much more confident and given me the belief that I belong out here and I can play really well with these guys.”
There’s always more at Mike’s place. [Dallas Stars]
Speaking of heroes who deserve all the love they get: John Klingberg is on a roll, which means the Stars are on a roll.
“It's nice to see him getting rewarded."— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) January 27, 2021
With six points in the first three games, Klinger’s bringing the heat. https://t.co/sN54DRTh99
Among all the amazing stats Joe Pavelski is putting up, this is definitely one of them.
Matthew DeFranks brought you these lines from yesterday’s practice, minus an under-the-weather Roope Hintz and Alexander Radulov taking a maintenance day.
Stars during practice— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) January 27, 2021
Khudobin is fine, he's currently on Zoom with reporters
And before you panic about Thomas Harley...
If you were wondering, Thomas Harley is on the ice. With Honka skating as a forward, didn't have a partner.— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) January 27, 2021
Around The Leagues
In On The #Kill Taker
- It took overtime and a shootout, but the Nashville Predators completed their two-game sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks, 2-1. [On The Forecheck]
“You’ve got to deal with it. That’s just it. The excuse jar is full.” Their roster is depleted and conditioning is a question mark, but the Carolina Hurricanes are cleared to return to action.
The Carolina Hurricanes are returning to the ice after a pause that included four postponed games. Coach Rod Brind'Amour says the team has "made the best" of the situation.— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) January 27, 2021
Full story by @aaronbeardap: https://t.co/MjCCvABqP0 pic.twitter.com/KgtkIlAppq
Today is #BellLetsTalk Day, and the hockey community is already fully involved.
It’s officially #BellLetsTalk Day!— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) January 28, 2021
All day long, Bell will donate five cents to Canadian mental health programs for every interaction listed below.
RT to raise money for mental health programs and learn more at https://t.co/iEYYdGfiEE. pic.twitter.com/MAolZl1dVg
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who presided over back-to-back Stanley Cups, has resigned abruptly. You’re already wondering why, so here’s a column devoted to it.
Gerard Gallant? Bruce Boudreau? Lane Lambert? The Seattle Kraken can choose only one first head coach, and the Stars’ Derek Laxdal and John Stevens are said to be in the running.
The morning skate is back and doing double duty during this pandemic season.
Ahhh, the good ol' morning skate— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) January 27, 2021
A staple of a bygone era has become precious teaching time in this COVID-19 era https://t.co/JkKxXJ8sX3
Are you ready for a new kind of Blackout? You’ll find out tonight.