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2 февраля 2002 года.
Khabibulin's Play Jogging NHL Memories // Tampa Tribune


LOS ANGELES - When Nikolai Khabibulin received his jersey for today's All-Star Game at the Staples Center, he was given No. 53, not his normal No. 35.

Khabibulin's number instead will go to goaltender Tommy Salo, who wears that number for Edmonton.

``I guess that's what happens when you don't play [in an All-Star Game] much,'' Khabibulin said.

While Salo will be making his second all-star appearance, Khabibulin was named for the third time. So much for seniority.

But that's what happens when you sit out from the league for nearly two seasons and everybody forgets about you.

Khabibulin's play this season, however, has jogged a lot of memories around the league of just how good the 29- year-old Russian netminder can be when he's on his game. When he played for Winnipeg/Phoenix, Khabibulin was one of the top goaltenders in the NHL and helped lead the franchise to four consecutive playoff berths. He was the cover story in Friday's edition as the centerpiece of USA Today's All-Star preview and has been featured in Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News. Khabibulin was surrounded by hordes of media members before taking the ice for practice Friday.

After ending his contract holdout, he is back on top. Khabibulin leads the league in save percentage (.931) and is fifth with a 2.14 goals-against average.

He also is tied with Colorado's Patrick Roy for the lead with seven shutouts.

``What he has done with the Lightning this year is probably not surprising, but it is amazing,'' Detroit goaltender Dominik Hasek said.

As amazing as Khabibulin has been, he remains one shutout shy of tying his career high and is less than halfway to the modern-day NHL record of 15 shutouts set by Tony Esposito 32 years ago.

Hasek, with 13 shutouts in 1997-98, has come the closest since.

With teams putting so much emphasis on defensive play and scoring down throughout the league, Esposito's record could be challenged. Khabibulin has 29 games remaining, while Roy has 27 to make a run at it this season.

``Somebody is going to break it,'' Khabibulin said. ``It may not be this year, but somebody will get there because if you look, there are more and more shutouts every year ... it's just a matter of time.''

Scoring is down this season, from an average of 5.5 goals per game last season to 5.2. That would be a drop of nearly 400 total goals by the end of the season. The overall league is on pace for 197 shutouts this season, which would be an increase of 11 from last season.

With the league trend favoring goaltenders, and goal scoring continuing to diminish, Hasek also believes Esposito's record could fall.

``I was close one time so I think somebody is going to break it,'' he said. ``How many leads the league, seven? Maybe it won't be this year.''

Khabibulin may have the best chance. When he gets on a roll, similar to the stretch in late November that earned him Player of the Week honors, he is nearly unbeatable. He already has a pair of 40-plus save shutouts this season, his first full season in the NHL since 1998-99, and said he still is not on top of his game consistently.

``It's pretty close to where I was two years ago and I probably felt better a month ago than I do right now,'' Khabibulin said. ``I had no expectations coming into this season other than to try to go out as best I could and play as hard as I could.''

So does Khabibulin think he's the man to break Esposito's record?

``I try not to pay attention to numbers because when you do, it takes your focus away,'' he said. ``I just want to go out and play my best.''

Страничка Николая Хабибулина на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


11 октября. Показатели Хабибулина продолжают подать. 

7 октября. Воробьев помог Хабибулину одержать первую победу в составе «Блэкхаукс». 

23 сентября. Хабибулин пока не показывает свой лучшей игры. 

5 августа. Хабибулин перебирается в Чикаго. 

29 марта. Хабибулин и Лекавалиер в центре внимания прессы Тампы. 

2 февраля. Николай Хабибулин: "Думать в воротах - непозволительная роскошь" - Спорт-Экспресс

22 ноября. Афанасенков против Хабибулина // "Спорт-Экспресс"

23 октября. Хабибулин и Каспарайтис - в "Ак Барсе" - "Спорт-Экспресс"


"ЗВЁЗДЫ С ВОСТОКА" @ c 1997 года