Khabibulin joins list of afflicted goalies, but not for long

November, 28, 2008
When Nikolai Khabibulin went down to the ice on Wednesday night, you couldn't help but think of Martin Brodeur or Roberto Luongo.

It's the year of the injured goalie, right?

But amazingly, the 35-year-old Russian netminder won't be out as long as those guys. Or so we are told.

"He seems to be fine, it's day-to-day, nothing serious," Chicago Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon told Friday.

As per the NHL's new injury policy, the Blackhawks aren't releasing any other details on Khabibulin other than saying it's nothing major.

Khabibulin, who has gone from unwanted waiver-wire trade bait in September to No. 1 goalie by the end of October, is 7-1-4 this season with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. He's been dynamite.

We asked Tallon what was going through his head when Khabibulin was sprawled on the ice in San Jose.

"I was thinking it's a good thing we have Huet," said Tallon.

Cristobal Huet, the free-agent add-on this past summer who was supposed to supplant Khabibulin as No. 1, hasn't been as good as Khabibulin, but he also hasn't been terrible. Now he gets a chance to take the job for at least a week or so.

"Huet hasn't been bad. Overall, he's been fine," said Tallon.

What's up with all the goalies going down this year? Brodeur, Luongo, Khabibulin, Evgeni Nabokov, Marc-Andre Fleury, Chris Mason, Manny Legace, Rick DiPietro, Brent Johnson and Kari Lehtonen have been among the goalies injured this season. Already, 70 goalies have made an NHL appearance this season.

Lehtonen hasn't played since Oct. 30.

"He's day-to-day, we're hoping to evaluate him after this weekend and see where he's at," Thrashers GM Don Waddell said of Lehtonen to Friday.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer




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