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Predators vs. Stars Series Preview: Stars Goaltenders

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The Stars have Ben Bishop and Anton Khudobin in net.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Once a story of shoddy goaltending, the Dallas Stars have made several netminder upgrades over the last few seasons. Anton Khudobin, nicknamed “Dobby,” was signed in free agency this summer and has been a solid addition in between the pipes.

Dallas’s starter will be Ben Bishop. Bishop has played in 99 games for the Stars since being traded from Los Angeles to Dallas at the 2017 NHL Draft. The massive netminder has a rocky injury history. Here’s how Dallas split their goalies this season:

Notice the big chunks where Anton Khudobin (black lines) started every game, and how those places are the ones where Landon Bow (yellow lines) came in in relief?
Micah Blake McCurdy/@IneffectiveMath, hockeyviz.com

Ben Bishop

Bishop, born in Denver, was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in 2005.

Over 46 games, the Dallas starter has a .934 Sv%. Bishop should be a finalist for the Vezina, but the fact that he’s played a lower number of games than most other Vezina-quality netminders might put him out of the running. (Author’s note: Bishop should absolutely get a Vezina nomination.)

[Editor’s note: Agreed. He’s faced more shots 5v5 than all but 21 other NHL goalies this season, so the “starter’s” workload has been there—and he’s done excellently with those shots. He and John Gibson are the obvious standouts for the Vezina to me this year, and Bishop, unlike Gibson, got enough help to put up respectable boxcars too.]

Bishop is a ridiculous 6’7”. His save percentage is first in the NHL, and his 1.98 GAA is the second-best in the League. He has two deep runs’ worth of playoff experience from his time with the Tampa Bay Lightning, playing in the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 and the Eastern Conference Final in 2016, but was injured in both series. He missed one game of the Cup Final but returned, and left the Eastern Conference Final partway through the first game and did not return.

Bishop left the game against the Flames on March 28th with a lower-body injury. He’s been injured 4-5 times at various points of the season, and, including this most recent instance, twice in March. Bishop appeared in Dallas’s last game of the season against Minnesota and posted a shutout. Unless we hear otherwise, he’s the presumed starter on Wednesday.

Here’s Bishop shutting out Buffalo in a 3-game shutout streak in March:

The 32-year old Bishop was traded to Los Angeles from Tampa Bay in February 2017. Los Angeles flipped him to Dallas later that year at the 2017 Draft. Bishop has had a resurgence this season after spending most of last season on injured reserve. The Stars used to rely on Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen for goaltending...now they have Bishop and Khudobin.

It’s clear Bishop has been the catalyst for Dallas this season. Bishop had 7 shutouts in 2018-2019. Here’s what his 5-on-5 heatmap looks like:

Blue means a nice easy workload for the goalie, while red means a lot of shots.
Micah Blake McCurdy/@IneffectiveMath, hockeyviz.com

Finally, Ben Bishop is the NHL’s runaway leader in high-danger save percentage with a .883 rate. He went 27-15-2 this season.

Anton Khudobin

Khudobin is also 32 years old.

The Russian netminder was signed last summer in free agency. He played several seasons backing up Tuukka Rask in Boston. Khudobin has also spent time in Carolina, Anaheim, and Minnesota.

Dallas’s backup can boast a .923 Sv% over 41 games for Dallas this season. He’s never played more than 36 games as a career backup. He has a 2.57 GAA, and the Predators really struggled in the three games they played against “Dobby.” Khudobin was 16-17-5 this season.

Check out this massive save from Khudobin on former Predator Kevin Fiala back in February:

In the event of a Bishop injury, the Predators will face a tough test against Khudobin. Like Nashville, Dallas can start either netminder without worrying about the quality of their goaltending.

Final Thoughts

Both Dallas goaltenders are viable options for the playoffs. Bishop’s solid play this season has put Dallas in the first wild-card position in the West. Could either Bishop or Khudobin steal a game for Dallas? It’s entirely possible.

Finally, in the event that Bishop or Khudobin is injured or ill, Landon Bow would be the presumed third-string goalie for Dallas. Bow has a .893 Sv% in 46 AHL contests with the Texas Stars. Bow has appeared twice in relief for the Dallas Stars this season, with a .947 Sv% over 59 minutes.


All stats and charts are from NHL.com, hockeyviz.com, and hockey-reference.com.