NASHVILLE – The four-game win streak where he made consecutive starts was fun while it lasted for backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, but it will be back to normal when he starts on Monday night against the Nashville Predators.
It will be nine days between his start against the Predators and his Black Friday win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and presumably Khudobin has cooled off a little bit after ripping off four wins in a row. It’s really not even much in the way of hyperbole to say Khudobin’s 7-0-2 beginning to the year saved the Bruins season when Tuukka Rask was struggling to find his way, and Bruce Cassidy played his own big part in the pivotal stretch by betting on the Bruins back-up.
Now Khudobin will need to re-adjust back to going long stretches between starts and continuing to make peace with the role he signed up for when he returned to the Bruins. It isn’t always that easy, but Khudobin is hoping he can still ride out the winning streak a little bit longer.
“I still don’t want to deal with [the big breaks between games] to be honest with you. When I got to the NHL I knew I had to go through it when I got the No. 2 job, but I do everything that I’ve done for years to get ready to play whether it was more or less,” said Khudobin. “It’s just harder when you’re not playing as much to go out there and be 100 percent. It’s harder to be cold, and then go out there and play.
“I think my game is pretty good right now. The winning part is a lot better than last year. You always expect that you’re going to play really well and you expect it. I’m not going to predict anything, but hopefully [the winning streak] will continue.”
Clearly the Bruins are hoping for more of the same from an athletic, unpredictable goalie in Khudobin that’s still tied for second in the NHL with a .932 save percentage, and is likewise tied for third in the NHL with a 2.22 goals against average that’s shared with one other goaltender in Andrei Vasilevskiy. But part of the downside to getting Tuukka Rask back on track with three straight starts was the cooling effect it might have on Khudobin, who will get his chance to disprove that narrative against a red-hot Predators group that’s again playing like the Western Conference champs they were last season.