3. Would Khudobin Finish Atop The NHL’s Save Percentage Leaderboard?
When the NHL paused the 2019-20 season due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, it left Anton Khudobin in some rare air.
As of now, the Dallas Stars goalie leads the League in save percentage with a .930. Through 30 games this season, he also has a 16-8-4 record and 2.22 goals-against average.
But this isn’t a recent occurrence; in fact, Khudobin has been near the top of the leaderboard on each of the important goalie metrics for most of the season. Back in mid-January, he and Ben Bishop owned the top two save percentages in the NHL. But while Bishop has receded slightly to 10th with a .920, Khudobin has remained firm at the top.
But for the time being, Khudobin is sitting atop the mountain. Impressively enough, it’s not unknown territory for the Dallas Stars. Last season, Bishop closed the regular season with the highest save percentage in the League at .934. That, along with a 1.98 GAA, 27 wins, and seven shutouts resulted in Bishop being a finalist and eventual runner-up for the 2019 Vezina Trophy.
And while Khudobin may not have the games played to swing a spot on the Vezina finalist list, he certainly had a chance to finish atop the NHL’s save percentage leaderboard.
His focus and determination have been evident from early in the season, and the team seems to battle well in front of him. He always seems ready to make the big save at a big moment and limit the opponent’s chances with solid positioning and timing.
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When the season paused, the Dallas Stars had 13 games remaining on their schedule. When you factor in the three back-to-backs, level of competition, and balance of home and road games, it’s probably safe to assume that Khudobin would have started in six more games.
I would have ventured to say that Khudobin would get the start against the Panthers since Bishop had started the past two games, the Coyotes because of past success and the back-to-back, the Kings, the Blackhawks because of past success and the back-to-back, the Canucks, and the Sharks because of the back-to-back. That’s just me spitballing from my work-at-home desk, but it’s probably close to a safe bet.
Had he faced off against those six opponents, would he have been able to maintain his lead? Would he possibly had even pushed it up a few more points and reached for Bishop’s .934 mark from the previous season?
Like the previous two slides, it’s a question still needing an answer. And while there are plenty more questions about players and streaks still unsettled, we’d likely further drive ourselves into frustration if we kept asking more. So, we’ll leave it at three for now.
Whether we ever get to find out the answer to them or not is still up in the air.
But you know what’s not up in the air? Staying safe and healthy, following the guidelines set forth by the CDC and other medical professionals, practicing social distancing, and doing your part to help flatten the curve on this pandemic.
The sooner we do that, the sooner we can head for normalcy once again and get back to following along as the questions unfold on the great sports stage.
Until then, stay safe, everyone.