For Anton Khudobin and the Dallas Stars, the season started in much the same manner as their last season ended, with a blistering offense that caught many teams reeling, and a goalie that seemed to pull off miraculous save after miraculous save. To say there was something magical about Khudobin’s play was an overused, but still fun, cliche on the goaltender’s nickname: Dobby.
“Dobby” Anton Khudobin Needs to Find His Magic
Undersized and Underestimated
At 5’11” tall, Dobby is on the shorter end when it comes to NHL goaltenders. In today’s league the average goalie stands at just over 6’2”. But his height has never been a hinderance for the netminder from Kazakhstan. In fact, some would regard it as a hidden strength. His shorter stature has allowed Dobby to move between the posts with an underestimated speed. His legs kick out, often blocking pucks at the very foot of the pad. Taller goaltenders can often cover the distance in simple butterflies or splits. For shooters facing the Stars, the net will often look like there is hint of daylight only to be stymied at the last second.
Is the stress of being the starter too much
Anton Khudobin’s been around the league since being drafted by the Minnesota Wild in 2009. He’s journeyed across the country and back again, playing for the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Anaheim Ducks, and Boston again before landing with the Dallas Stars. The traveling puck stopper has filled in as a back-up well. But he’s never served as a bonafide starter.
Due to his play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year, many in the Dallas metroplex have come to love Dobby, and would argue that the job is now his to lose to when Ben Bishop returns from his knee surgery. And with the opening series against the Nashville Predators, that certainly looked to be the case. But, then Dobby had a bad game. And then another. And soon, rookie goaltender Jake Oettinger has started to shine, and even though he’s lost two games in OT against the Chicago Blackhawks, his one-goal losses look very impressive compared to allowing 4 goals in a few periods.
Recapturing the Magic
But all is not lost for Khudobin. After a brief one game suspension for missing practice, a policy the stars have had in place since coach Jim Montgomery, he looks to regain his position and get back to stopping pucks with awe inspiring wizardry. His team, often blessed with offensive scoring in bursts, still maintain an attitude of defense first, and when the players in front of the net are on their game, Anton Khudobin seems to rise to equal their effort. In times that they falter, Anton’s glove saves, near-psychic anticipation, and deceptive leg speed, his highlight reel matches with every top tier goalie in the league. With 6 more games to go in an 8 game home stretch, Anton Khudobin and the Dallas Stars look to regain some of Dobby’s magic, and charge back into the playoff hunt in this shortened season.