Quenneville: Khabibulin's turn coming soon


CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville insisted Sunday goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin's recent lack of starts had more to do with the team’s schedule than Khabibulin’s struggles.

Quenneville announced prior to Sunday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers that Corey Crawford would be the team’s starting goaltender. Quenneville has decided to start Crawford in the team’s last two sets of back-to-back games. Crawford will be starting his fifth consecutive game.

Khabibulin hasn’t started since Oct. 29. He’s 1-0-1 with a 4.73 goals-against average and .818 save percentage in three games this season. In his last two starts, he allowed six goals on 25 shots against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 24 and allowed four goals on 22 shots and was pulled in the second period against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 29.

“Definitely got some consideration,” Quenneville said of Khabibulin starting Sunday. “I know the last couple of weeks it’s been a light schedule, then we go to four games to a week. So we expect to get him in here real soon.

“With Khabi, I just think we like the way he’s been practicing. He’s been practicing well. It’s a dangerous team over there. We respect them for what they can do. We’re looking to get Nik in here.”

Quenneville also continued to voice his confidence in Khabibulin being the team’s backup goaltender despite his rough start. Khabibulin was signed to a one-year deal in the offseason to replace Ray Emery, who signed with the Philadelphia Flyers.

“I think once he gets rolling here, I think we’re going to be fine,” Quenneville said. “And he’ll get his turns in the net. Right now, he’s had a stretch here without playing, but we envision him to get back in and get his regular starts that we anticipated at the start of the year. But he’s working hard in practice to get that chance to get back in and do what he can do.”

Crawford made 31 saves on 33 shots in the Blackhawks’ 5-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday. He has gone 3-0-1 with a 1.75 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in his last four starts.