When you’re one of the top netminders in the KHL throughout your career, it’s expected that you’ll make some unthinkable stops. But even Konstantin Barulin had to be surprised by his lunging paddle stop on Yuri Babenko in KHL action Monday.
In third period action between HC Sochi and Dynamo Moscow, with the score deadlocked at two apiece, Babenko was the recipient of a glorious opportunity. A shot from the blue line was deflected on its way in and ended up coming to a stop right on Babenko’s stick with Barulin scrambling to regain position in his net. With Babenko thinking he had an entire cage to shoot at, he fired a backhand along the ice which was turned away miraculously by Barulin:
It really feels like the play-by-play announcer undersold how great that stop by Barulin was. If that play happens 10 times, Babenko is scoring nine. The thing is, though, Barulin has been one of the most solid goaltenders in the KHL over his eight years in the league.
For six straight seasons, Barulin has been selected to the KHL all-star game, he was the playoff MVP in 2010-11 and has backstopped Russia to World Junior Championship and World Championship gold medals. He’s more than earned his spot as one of the top keepers in the league.
Barulin is well on his way to a career-year in 2014-15, too. Through 16 games, he has a .937 save percentage and a 1.77 goals-against average. That’s in more than 910 minutes of work so far this campaign.
At 31, it seems unlikely Barulin ever leaves the KHL for the NHL, but he did have his chance. At the 2003 draft, Barulin was selected in the third round, 84th overall, by the St. Louis Blues. He has never played a pro game in North America.