For the first time since May 22, 2009, Nikolai Khabibulin will play for the Chicago Blackhawks in a game that counts. He will get the nod on Friday against the New York Islanders, according to CSN Chicago.
The 40-year-old goaltender agreed to a one-year contract over the summer to serve as Corey Crawford’s understudy. This is Khabibulin’s second stint with the Blackhawks as he winds down a career that’s already spanned 795 NHL games.
Although Khabibulin isn’t likely to challenge Crawford for the starting job after the younger netminder won the Stanley Cup and inked a six-year, $36 million extension, Khabibulin should still play a significant role on the team. Crawford has never played in more than 57 NHL contests in a single season and Chicago will participate in 18 sets of back-to-back games in 2013-14.
That being said, Khabibulin emphasized in September that he will be comfortable with whatever role the Blackhawks give him.
He had a 2.54 GAA and .923 save percentage in 12 games with Edmonton last season.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.