BostonBruins.com — Anton Khudobin said he’s been waiting a long time for a chance to be a full-time NHL goalie. For the Kazakhstan-born netminder, that opportunity is now.
Khudobin, who saw the majority of his time in Providence while making a brief one-game appearance for the Bruins last season, will be in the thick of the battle an NHL job when training camp opens up.
"I’m just excited about it," Khudobin said after the team skated in Wilmington on Tuesday. "I’ve been waiting for this for five years and right now is a chance to be a full NHL goalie.
"Pretty much I’ve just tried to get ready and prepare myself to play more again."
Khudobin said he spent much of the summer focusing on conditioning.
"I spent a long month with [a professional trainer] and it was tiring practices, hard practices on the beach and on the ice, and it was only conditioning," said Khudobin. "Right now I would say I’m 90-percent conditioned before the season."
While Khudobin said he’s very physically fit, he added he did not skate much this summer, although he said it was only a matter of shaking off the rust.
"I’ve just been on the ice and off the ice just for conditioning, we didn’t have lots of shooters, and we didn’t have lots of pucks going to my net," Khudobin said. "Right now, I just need to get a feeling of the puck and I’ll be ready to go."
Whichever crease he occupied last season, success followed Khudobin.
In Providence, he posted a 21-19-3 record for a young P-Bruins squad and compiled a stingy 2.61 goals against average.
With Tuukka Rask on the shelf late in the season, the B’s called Anton's name in early April to provide a blow for a tired Thomas. Khudobin not only held his own, but shined in the NHL spotlight. Against the Senators, in Ottawa, Khudobin led the Bruins to a 3-1 victory while stopping 44 shots.
The two points clinched the Eastern Conference's number two seed for the Bruins, and gave Khudobin a win in his first appearance in Black & Gold.
"When I saw Khudobin play, whether it was training camp or whether it was when he was with us that game in Ottawa, practice, you can see a goaltender who has not only improved but has matured," said Head Coach Claude Julien earlier this summer.
Originally selected by the Minnesota Wild in the 2004 NHL Draft as an 18-year-old, the Bruins acquired Khudobin in a trade in 2011 that sent Jeff Penner and Mikko Lehtonen to Minnesota.
Khudobin, while lacking the actual NHL experience (seven total games played) is still the elder netminder among the B’s goalies as a 26-year-old. And with Rask looking to man the reins, Khudobin also appears to be a very viable option in the crease for Boston.