Khabibulin ‘not quite’ ready to be a prime time player
Edmonton Oilers goalie wants to see more practice shots prior to any game action-
But the veteran goaltender knew he wasn’t yet ready for prime time, which would have affected his game, and he certainly didn’t want to be a liability to the Edmonton Oilers. So he’ll play spectator on Sunday when the season opens against the Canucks in Vancouver while Yann Danis backups Devan Dubnyk.
Also missing on the 23-man roster will be defenceman Theo Peckham, who was late arriving to camp because of a hip flexor. He will undergo his physical on Monday, but until then will remain on the injured list with Khabibulin.
“For me, the biggest issue right now is just seeing the shots. I want to go into a game knowing I’ve seen every situation at practice, so I’m not thinking, ‘oh crap, I need to do this,’ ” said Khabibulin, who underwent hip surgery in the off-season.
Khabibulin said on Friday there are no structural issues, but he when he started seeing more NHL shooters this week at the Oilers camp, he realized he needed to see more practice pucks.
He doesn’t have a definitive timeline, but he doesn’t think he will miss too many games. The 40-year-old is in the final 2 year of his contract and has no intention of not playing before the shortened season is over.
“I’m sick of rehab and regardless of what happens next year, I want to play. I don’t want to just write this year off,” Khabibulin said.
“There aren’t any pre-season games, so you can’t take a mulligan. (And) I feel like I’m not quite there yet. I need to see more shots in practice.
“You have to be honest because as hard as it is to admit sometimes (that you’re not ready to play), you have to be. I’ve learned that over my career. You want to be selfish and tell them that you’re ready,” he said, “but it’s not an individual sport. I don’t want to jeopardize it for these guys. I just don’t think it would be fair.
“You can practice all you want, but the pace is quite a bit slower. You really need to get into a real (NHL) practice to feel where you’re really at. I only had three of those, so I just need to get that feeling back.”
Danis, meanwhile, was recalled from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League on Thursday and was on the ice with the Oilers the following morning.
The 31-year-old had played 28 games with the Barons, registering a 2.99 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.
“If they need me, I’ll be ready to go,” Danis said.
He has been in two previous NHL season openers — once when he was with the Montreal Canadiens (2005) and again when he was with the New Jersey Devils (2009). Both times it was in a backup role.
Dubnyk got the net last year for the opening game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Oilers won 2-1 in a shootout.
OIL DROPS: Captain Shawn Horcoff was down with the flu on Friday, but is expected to be back on the ice on Saturday ... Danis said there were definite pros and cons when the lockout ended and the Barons lost six of their starters. On the one hand, the players knew immediately that the offensive production was going to drop. But on the other hand, the departures of players like Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall and Justin Schultz opened the door for those players who weren’t playing as many minutes.
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal