Cam Ward may finally be back, but for now Anton Khudobin is the No. 1 goaltender in Carolina — and the whole NHL.
Khudobin was rewarded for a stellar January in which he went 10-4 with 2.19 goals-against average and .927 save percentage by being named the NHL’s first star for the month. Toronto’s Phil Kessel and San Jose’s Joe Pavelski were named the league's second and third star, respectively.
Those 14 January appearances match Khudobin’s previous season high from last year, when he went 9-4-1 for the Bruins. Making it even more impressive is the fact that Khudobin couldn't have done much to win the four games he lost: Carolina was shutout three times, and in the other loss Khudobin was brought on in relief after Justin Peters allowed three goals to Tampa Bay in a 5-3 loss on Jan. 19.
Here's the release from the team:
KHUDOBIN NAMED NHL’S FIRST STAR FOR JANUARY
Goaltender is fifth player in team history recognized as player of month
RALEIGH, NC – The National Hockey League announced today that Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Anton Khudobin (HOO-doh-bihn) has been named the league’s First Star for the month of January. It marks just the fifth time in franchise history that a member of the team has earned the league’s player of the month honor.
Khudobin, 27, matched a Hurricanes franchise record for wins in a month in January with 10, registering a goals-against average of 2.19 and save percentage of .927 in 14 games. A native of Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan, Khudobin is 12-4-0 with a 2.16 goals-against average and .927 save percentage this season for Carolina, after signing as a free agent in July 2013. Khudobin was originally drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the seventh round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, and has a career NHL record of 26-9-1 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .930 save percentage in 38 games with Minnesota, Boston and Carolina.
This marks the fourth time a Carolina Hurricanes player has been named the league’s player of the month, and the first since Cam Ward was named First Star for March 2009. Goaltender Arturs Irbe was the NHL’s Player of the Month in October 1998 and center Eric Staal was named the league’s offensive player of the month in October 2005. Only one member of the Hartford Whalers was ever named the NHL’s Player of the Month – Mike Rogers in December 1980.