Nikolai Khabibulin’s stellar goaltending a major reason the Blackhawks are among the NHL’s elite

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin is making quite a case to be on the ice for the 2009 NHL All-Star game in Montreal. Entering today’s action, Nik’s .922 save percentage is good for 9th in the league and as Daily Herald beat writer Tim Sassone points out, the Blackhawks would be in major trouble had any team chosen to claim Khabibulin off of waivers prior to the start of the regular season. Khabibulin recently returned from a “lower-body” injury on December 12th and hasn’t missed a beat, having won his last three starts (victories over Colorado, Edmonton and Calgary). Chicago has a long Christmas breek before returning home to face Philadelphia on Friday night.

Time to give Khabibulin his due

by Tim Sassone on Sat, 12/20/2008 – 02:14

CALGARY – Where would the Blackhawks be if another team had claimed Nikolai Khabibulin on waivers back in training camp?

They probably wouldn’t be 17-6-7 today and the talk of the NHL.

Khabibulin has been nothing short of sensational for the Hawks, and he was just that again Friday night in the 3-2 overtime win over the Flames. As he has done most of the year, Khabibulin kept the Hawks in the game long enough for the offense to do its thing.
Khabibulin has lost once in regulation, his record now at 10-1-4. Once.

As we walked out of the Saddledome Friday night into the unbearable Alberta cold, Chris Kuc of the Tribune mentioned how Khabibulin should be going to the All-Star Game, and he is absolutely right.

All week the talk has been of Patrick Kane taking over the lead among Western Conference forwards in fan voting. Kane is an all-star, no doubt, but so is Khabibulin.

I know some of you posters out there still think the Hawks should trade Khabibulin to free salary cap space in order to acquire a top-six forward.

Sorry, no way can you trade Khabibulin now. Goaltending is the strength of this team and what GM Dale Tallon needs to do is ride Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet all the way to the finish line.

Khabibulin is a Stanley Cup-winning goalie. That’s right, I said it. Stanley Cup. Can the Hawks win it? Who’s to say they can’t. Carolina did. Anaheim did. Khabibulin’s Lightning did. It’s certainly possible at this point.