Boasting a 6-0-2 record, 0.98 GAA, .963 save percentage and the NHL’s Third Star of the Month award for October, Edmonton Oilers G Nikolai Khabibulin has received plenty of kudos and rave reviews for his play this season.
Thing is, he doesn’t want to hear any of them.
“I don’t pay attention to any of it,” Khabibulin told Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal. “I haven’t gone on the Internet. I haven’t read any papers. I haven’t even gone to NHL.com.
“We’re just 13 games in. Things can change drastically this time of the year. You have a couple of bad games and you’re just normal.”
Khabibulin’s been anything but ‘just normal’ over the last couple years. After signing a four-year, $15-million deal in 2009-10, Khabibulin played just 18 games before back surgery ended his season. Last year was a statistical nightmare (10-32-4, 3.40 GAA), lowlighted by his extreme DUI charge in Arizona. Heading into this campaign, fans were openly asking management to buy him out (which Edmonton couldn’t because Khabibulin was over 35 when he signed) and it seemed Devan Dubnyk was primed to be the Oilers’ No. 1.
Yet here Khabibulin sits, at or near the top of almost every significant statistical category.
Not that he’s aware of it.
“The first couple of years I was in the league, I would go through the stats, but then you are shifting your focus on the wrong things,” he said. “As far as having a great save percentage, well, then you start to focus on that instead of what you actually have to do to get there. I really stopped paying attention to all that.
“I’ve seen it so many times. Guys will start out with 15 points in 10 games then they finish the season with 35. How good is that? I mean if it stays this way, great.
“If somehow it starts changing, then I’m not going to be thinking what if. I don’t want to know.”