Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Nikolai Khabibulin "working out like crazy" for Chicago Blackhawks, still no timetable for his return

Nikolai Khabibulin hasn’t played in an NHL game since November 16. The Chicago Blackhawks were blistered by the Nashville Predators that night, and the team lost its No. 2 goalie to boot. Since then, Khabibulin has slowly been rehabbing from a lower-body injury. There is no timetable for his return to this point, but head coach Joel Quenneville spoke to Chris Kuc of The Chicago Tribune and gave the following update:

He’s working out like crazy. He wants to get healthy. I’m sure he’s progressing but I don’t think there’s a clear sign of exactly when he’ll be on the ice.

The ‘Hawks haven’t exactly struggled to produce wins with Khabibulin on the shelf. Antti Raanta has been rock solid as Corey Crawford’s backup, and it might be tough for the 40-year-old goalie to work his way back into games for Chicago at this point.

His 5.00 GAA and .811 save percentage leave a lot to be desired, and we’ve already seen goalies buried in the minors after several poor performances. Martin Biron—formerly of the New York Rangers—comes to mind.

Khabibulin has faced all of 74 shots this season and has managed to stop 60 of them. Once he returns he may only be given a few contests to iron it out in the NHL. That’s just speculation on our part, but Raanta has been too good and Khabibulin has been too bad to not see at least a hint of some writing on the wall.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Chicago Blackhawks NHL Nikolai Khabibulin

  • Deacon272

    What are you TALKING about…”Raanta has been too good and Khabibulin has been too bad”? That’s an incredible statement. While the young kid, Raanta, has made a “few” stellar saves, most of the saves have been mediocre. Time and time again, he’s been coming out of the crease to play a puck and then getting himself caught away from the action. When the puck isn’t immediately upon him, he stands around as if there’s a timeout. He can’t move laterally with any kind of dexterity, and the worst part of his tenure has been his inability to stop OT shootout attempts.

    Clearly, he has been responsible for more losses than victories by an unacceptable margin. In short, he is simply not ready for prime time – even as a backup. The Hawks MUST, and I reiterate MUST, find another netminder capable of spelling Corey Crawford if the Hawks are to successfully repeat, or even come close.