Boston Bruins goalie Anton Khudobin was back in Raleigh Friday night battling Carolina Hurricanes’ goalie Cam Ward. This time it was not to see who would win the nod from Hurricanes’ head coach Bill Peters to be the team’s starter. It was “Doby” versus “Wardo” as the two Eastern Conference rivals squared off in what was the second game in as many nights for both teams. At stake, precious points that both teams craved hungrily, crucial even at this juncture in the season.
Khudobin v Ward
I always liked Khudobin when he was a member of the Hurricanes. In my opinion, he played a better than average game most nights. When Peters arrived in Raleigh in 2014, the battle between Khudobin and Ward was real. Peters remarked that he would let them battle it out in an effort to win the job as starting goalie. Ward eventually won that battle, retaining his spot as starter that he has now held for over a decade.
I felt like Khudobin got a bum deal at times, as he kept the Hurricanes in games most nights, only to have the team’s office struggle and give him no support. In April 2015 I wrote about end of season interviews in the ‘Canes’ locker room. Regarding Khudobin I made this observation:
If anyone has a right to be frustrated with the Carolina Hurricanes it is Anton Khudobin. Game after game he played his heart out only to have his team not produce offensively.
He was visibly frustrated at the season he had just had, but it was not at entirely his fault. The team was learning a new system, dealing with injuries and just did not return the support Khudobin gave them with offensive production. As a result, his season looked awful.
The Emphatic Reminder
Khudobin had a good night going against his former team, through a period and a half.
Then Hurricanes center Jordan Staal did this:
A shorthanded goal that left Khudobin looking helpless and turned the tide in the Hurricanes’ favor. The battle was fun to watch as Doby’s pal Wardo was doing his own thing up the ice:
In the end, the two former teammates fought to a 2-2 tie in regulation. That seemed fitting as there was not a great deal of separation between the two goalies when they were both in Carolina. But in overtime, Teuvo Teravainen blasted one by Khudobin for the ‘Canes win, a shot that looked as if Khudobin should have stopped:
Once again, at least on this night, Ward was the better goalie on the ice in Raleigh. The reminder was emphatic that the ‘Canes once had a pretty good backup in Khudobin, but that he has not risen above where he was two years ago. Bruins fans are restless, and who knows what the future holds for him.
— Matt.B (@mattbomford81) December 24, 2016
Ward is still the man for the ‘Canes and that’s a good thing, as he is doing iron man work for Peters right now. Khudobin came to town and reminded everyone that he is still trying to find his way as a reliable goalie. I think ‘Canes fans are glad GM Ron Francis stuck with Ward.
Mark lives in the Raleigh, NC area and covers the Carolina Hurricanes.