Photo courtesy Pepto-Bismol. Urp.

Khabibulin's Return And A Look At Recent Goaltender Performance

According to the Oilers, Nikolai Khabibulin is back practising with the team.  Today, he had his own net at one end of the rink, while Dubnyk and Martin Gerber split time in the other net.  I’m not a nuclear physicist, but I’d be willing to guess that Khabibulin would likely be able to go tomorrow night at the Bell Centre versus the Canadiens.

Glad to hear that Khabibulin’s groin is feeling better, but as for him returning to the lineup, I’ve got an especially gassy feeling about all this.


I don’t have enough hours in the day to rehash that what is the Nikolai Khabibulin signing in the 2009 offseason, but let’s just understand that we’ve got Khabi-mania in Edmonton throughout 2011-12 unless he’s moved to Toronto. Amidst his off-ice shenanigans, he’s posted a few games that were respectable. Unfortunately, his last several were over par to say the least.

It doesn’t quite take a stats wizard to see that Khabibulin’s last five games have really been a rough go for the guy.

Nikolai Khabibulin #35

Date Opponent Result GS MIN W L OTL EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
Nov 17 CHI L 0-5 1 40 0 1 0 0 4 6.00 31 27 .871 0
Nov 14 @ NYR L 2-8 1 60 0 1 0 0 8 8.00 31 23 .742 0
Nov 11 @ DET L 2-6 1 60 0 1 0 0 6 6.00 34 28 .824 0
Nov 9 @ CAR L 1-7 1 7 0 1 0 0 4 32.80 8 4 .500 0
Nov 7 @ CHI W 2-1 1 60 1 0 0 0 1 1.00 27 26 .963 0

Numbers courtesy Yahoo! Sports

According to this table, there have been 131 shots taken at Nikolai Khabibulin over his past five games, and he’s saved 108 of them.   Calculate the SV% by pushing 108 / 131 into the Calculator under your accessories tab (Mac users, you may have to grab an actual calculator, apologies) and you’ll see a total of 0.825 (rounded up from .8244).  That’s not very good at all.

I understand that Khabibulin faced some tough teams in this 1-4 stretch (CHI 2X, DET, and NYR), but to get blown out of the water against Carolina by allowing four goals in eight shots isn’t going to get you closer to the Jennings Trophy any time soon.  Eight goals against the Rangers, seven goals against Carolina, six against a tough Detroit squad… it hurts.

Although I’m not trying to slag on Khabibulin too hard here, I come making the case that you’ve got to ride the hot hand until it cools.  Specifically, those hot hands are Devan Dubnyk and Martin Gerber.  Logic be damned, there’s not a single good reason why you should be starting Khabibulin until either Dubnyk or Gerber roll out a turd performance.

In contrast, let’s have a look at the Dubnyk-Gerber service line.

Martin Gerber #29 (only two GP this season)

Date Opponent Result GS MIN W L OTL EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
Nov 29 @ OTT W 4-1 1 60 1 0 0 0 1 1.00 23 22 .957 0
Nov 25 COL W 3-2 1 60 1 0 0 0 2 2.00 37 35 .946 0

Devan Dubnyk #40

Date Opponent Result GS MIN W L OTL EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
Nov 27 SAN L 3-4 1 59 0 1 0 0 4 4.07 25 21 .840 0
Nov 23 @ PHO L 0-5 1 60 0 1 0 0 5 5.00 34 29 .853 0
Nov 21 @ ANA W 4-2 1 60 1 0 0 0 2 2.00 40 38 .950 0
Nov 19 PHO OTL 3-4 1 65 0 0 1 0 3 2.77 42 39 .929 0
Nov 17 CHI L 0-5 0 20 0 0 0 0 1 3.00 16 15 .938 0

Admittedly, Dubnyk’s last two games have been less than worthy to write home about, but the guy’s still sitting on a .911 season SV% as opposed to Khabibulin’s .879.

The Oilers are 3-2 over their last five games powered by the Dubnyk/Gerber machine.  Is it ludicrous to consider sending Khabibulin down to OKC for a conditioning stint perhaps?  I know the team is paying Khabibulin 3.75M this season and the next season and the season after that, but the team is also doing that with Sheldon Souray in Hershey for this season and the season after this one.

I’m not suggesting that putting Khabibulin in the net tomorrow night in Montreal is going to cause the Oilers to automatically forfeit the game, but Gerber and Dubnyk have been propping up the tent fine while Khabibulin has been injured.

Until one of Dubnyk /Gerber get gonged, let’s see where this roller coaster stops.

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Tags: Devan Dubnyk Martin Gerber Nikolai Khabibulin

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