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января 2011 года.
He's part goaltender and part interpretive dancer // Minneapolis Star Tribune
During stoppages on Sunday night, Wild goalie Anton Khudobin kept holding animated conversations with himself.
Maybe that's why the Canucks seemed so confused: Khudobin had multiple personalities working between the pipes.
"His personality?" said Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck. "It's exactly what he looks like on the ice. He's all over the place."
Khudobin made 32 saves against the NHL's best team on Sunday at Xcel Energy Center to earn his first big-league shutout in his third career start.
Two nights after letting a harmless-looking flip from the blue line bounce past him for an embarrassing goal in a loss to Colorado, Khudobin frustrated the Sedin twins and all of their skilled hockey cousins as the Wild won 4-0.
Vancouver had lost only once in regulation in its previous 19 games, but then the Canucks hadn't been forced to face a guy who thinks the "spin-o-rama" is a way to prevent goals, not score them.
Khudobin must think his team gets style points if he makes saves while executing a triple lutz.
"I think you can ask the goalie coach about my style," said Khudobin, who is from Kazakhstan. "It would be better. I'm playing 'butterfly,' and some pucks I stop just standing up, so I don't know how to explain this style.
Yes, half-and-half. Half butterfly, half hummingbird.
"He does what he does," Clutterbuck said. "He's a different goalie. It seems like every night you get a goalie who looks exactly like the goalie you saw the night before.
"With him, it's fun ... and a little nerve-racking at times. But he gets the job done."
Modern goalies tend to rely on stillness, angles and large pads, knowing if they maintain good position, they will block most shots. If shots are bullets, they are Kevlar.
Khudobin's approach is different. He's more like a kitten with a rubber mouse. He flops. He slides. He spins.
My colleague Michael Russo calls him "The Dreidel," which I think is New York-ese for "Man with No Sense of Direction."
"To me, it seemed like he was a bit, sliding here, sliding there," Wild coach Todd Richards said. "But the slides made the saves."
The skilled Canucks, who entered the game with the third-most goals in the league, must have felt like basketball players in a high wind. With Khudobin executing his modern dance routines between the pipes, they didn't know where to shoot.
"It's probably entertaining to watch him," Wild forward Andrew Brunette said. "I think he reminds me of an '80s goalie, the way he plays. He's very acrobatic, and he made some really big saves tonight."
Khudobin played because of injuries to Niklas Backstrom and Jose Theodore. Even after losing on Friday and allowing that fluke goal, Khudobin, known for being as loose off the ice as in the net, didn't seem worried.
After the game, he apparently demonstrated his English vocabulary, including a few words in the locker room celebration that would have fit right into a monologue by Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau on "24/7," HBO's look inside the Capitals and Penguins locker rooms.
"Anton had a few good words after the game to the group," Richards said. "It all made sense. He's got a good sense of humor."
Could Richards provide an example? "I can't repeat that," he said with a smile. "Yeah, that would have been a '24/7' thing."
Because Khudobin hails from Kazakhstan, a few of his Houston teammates tried to nickname him "Borat." Khudobin didn't particularly like that.
But there is one line from the movie "Borat" that would have applied to Khudobin's first NHL shutout: "Very nice."
"I'm feeling great," he said shortly after the game, still wearing his pads. "It's unbelievable. Never been better."
"He's a really good guy to have around," Clutterbuck said. "The guy is a lot of fun."