It's been a bad 12 months for the Edmonton Oilers. The same could be said for Nikolai Khabibulin. The two have taken downturns that are strikingly similar. Follow the timeline:
May 7, 2009 - The Oilers, despite being out-shot 40-18, pull off a 4-1 victory on the road. It's their 33rd win of the season, giving them 70 points total with 17 games left to play. They're fighting for a playoff spot, but they're in the thick of the race.
May 15, 2009 - Khabibulin gives up four goals in an ugly loss to the Islanders, but makes Blackhawks fans excited to have their stud goaltender back from a groin injury for what should be a deep playoff run.
April 11, 2009 - The Oilers drop their season finale to the Calgary Flames, helping the Flames solidify their playoff spot and leaving themselves seven points shy of the postseason.
May 27, 2009 - The Blackhawks season finally comes to an end. Khabibulin turns in another great postseason, leading the Hawks all the way to the Conference Finals before running into the Detroit Red Wings juggernaut.
July 1st, 2009 - The Oilers give Khabibulin a four year, $15 million contract to become their starting goaltender.
November 18, 2009 - Khabibulin misses his first game of the season, a 6-4 victory for Edmonton. The team's record isn't great (8-10-3), but things are looking up. Twenty-three-year-old Gilbert Brule is on pace for 20 goals and 40 points, and he's only 5th on the team in scoring.
December 11, 2009 - Khabibulin is still out with some as-yet-unknown low back injury. Behind the remarkable play of rookie goaltender Jeff Deslauriers, the Oilers win their fifth road game in nine days, pushing their record over .500 and making themselves into an early-season surprise.
January 13, 2010 - Khabibulin announces that he will be having surgery to fix what was discovered to be a herniated disc in his lower back, and will likely miss most if not all of the remaining regular season. This news comes the day after the Oilers lose for the 12th time in their last 13 games.