As a newly obtained goaltender for the Providence Bruins last season, Anton Khudobin brandished a handful of common threads between himself and his immediate predecessor, Nolan Schaefer.
Just like Schaefer, Khudobin has taken his nibbles and slurps of NHL ice chips while spending the bulk of his career in the American League. Like Schaefer, Khudobin once partook in a recent AHL All-Star Game while fostering in the Minnesota Wild organization as a member of the Houston Aeros.
But the one critically favorable difference is the long-absent stability that Khudobin brought to the Providence crease after Schaefer whiffed on his five-month swing in the organization. In essence, Khudobin was Schaefer’s reliever in a 2010-11 season lost beyond his control.
2010-11 Highlights (With Houston and Providence)
• Won four consecutive starts (Oct. 30-Nov. 6) for Houston after losing each of his first three.
• Helped to shut out the Grand Rapids Griffins, 5-0, with a 28-save performance on Nov. 19.
• Won five straight games for the Aeros, including three straight in overtime or a shootout, between Nov. 27 and Dec. 10.
• Won six consecutive appearances with the Aeros between Jan. 22 and Feb. 11.
• Acquired by Boston from Minnesota in exchange for Jeff Penner and won each of his first four Providence starts, including a 20-save shutout of Bridgeport at The Dunk March 6.
• Stopped 41 out of 43 shots, including 24 out of 25 in the third period, to salvage a 3-2 season-finale win over the Manchester Monarchs.
• Pulled from a 5-2, Dec. 12 loss to the Lake Erie Monsters after allowing three goals on 11 shots through the 5:32 mark of the second period.
• Pulled at 13:02 of the second period in a 5-0, Dec. 21 loss to Hamilton after letting in five out of 17 shots-faced.
• Pulled after playing only seven minutes and 55 seconds, giving up two goals on three shots in an eventual 5-2 loss to Grand Rapids.
• Stopped only 20 out of 25 shots in a 5-4 P-Bruins loss at Portland on March 12.
Khudobin personified the belated consistency that the P-Bruins reaped entering the homestretch of last season. He took credit for a 9-4-1 transcript as he backstopped the better part of a 12-6-1 finish to the year, which did no short-term good besides delaying the Baby Bs’ abolition from playoff contention.
But now is the P-Bruins chance to carry their strong finish over and strut back into sincere contention. Along with that is Khudobin’s chance to build upon the promising tone he set in March and April. He will be leaned upon to deliver the same results he submitted in six weeks over a broader span of six months.