BOSTON – Anton Khudobin is definitely reaching a boiling point with his personal frustration, and the losses that are mounting when he's between the pipes.
The Russian netminder was on the losing end of things again on Thursday night when he allowed four goals on 27 shots in the Bruins 4-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at TD Garden, and now has just one win in six tries this season.
It certainly wasn’t all Khudobin’s fault this time around. The Ducks first goal was a puck that bounced off David Krejci’s stick on the way to the back of the net, and Anaheim’s game-winner bounced off the back of Brandon Carlo’s skate before landing right on Rickard Rakell’s stick for the strike in the second period. In fact those kinds of unfortunate bounces exasperated Khudobin enough following another loss to call it a “cluster-(expletive)”, and left him angrier in his postgame thoughts rather than feeling frustrated or sorry for himself.
“Go in for the practice, talk to [goalie coach Bob Essensa], see what we can do better, and keep moving forward,” said Khudobin, when asked what the plan was to bounce back from another defeat. “Nothing can kill me right now. Obviously, it’s disappointing. I’m not really happy. But I’m not going to put my head down and say that I’m done.”
It wasn’t all bad bounces for Khudobin, though. The Bruins backup goalie was beaten cleanly on a breakaway in the second period with defenseman Kevin Bieksa as the goal-scorer after he hopped out of the penalty box, and a good goalie operating at the height of his powers doesn’t get beaten by the likes of Bieksa. The third goal allowed to Anaheim on a Josh Manson rebound in front certainly happened mostly because the Bruins had nobody clearing the front of the net after a Brandon Carlo turnover, but the play never really materializes if Khudobin doesn’t spit out a big rebound in the first place.
So Khudobin was average at best on Thursday night against the Ducks, and that doesn't feel close to good enough among many casual B's observers. Clearly Khudobin needs to be much better than that in order to beat back the teams salivating at the chance to face the Black and Gold without Tuukka Rask in their starting lineup.
The Bruins players are just as determined to play better in front of Khudobin, and give the affable Russian goalie something to smile about after a bummer of a season thus far.
“We believe in every single guy, you know? It’s just, like I said, tough break. The first goal was all me," said David Krejci. “Everyone had their guy [in the D-zone], I just couldn’t put the stick on it and tried to clear it. But things are going to happen.
“Dobby had zero chance on that, and I felt like we should have done a little better job in front of him. They always had two guys crashing the net and they got a couple bad goals. So we’ve got to do better job at this and help him out a little bit better.”
The Bruins clearly need to get better, but so does Khudobin as a goalie that needs to be both improved and one with a few more W’s next to his name, if he’s going to protect his cushy gig as the main understudy to Rask this season.