The Anaheim Ducks have the best record in the NHL since the holiday break going 18-4-2. The Ducks have scored 53 goals in their last 13 games averaging just over four goals per game. The topic lately for Anaheim has been how much the offensive output has improved, but the goalies for the Ducks can’t be overlooked as part of the team’s success.
At the beginning of the season when Anaheim couldn’t score, Frederik Andersen kept the struggling Ducks in each contest. He had a 2.03 goals-against average with a .934 save percentage. Despite the solid numbers from Andersen, his record was 2-6-2. The Ducks couldn’t provide any offensive support and had only averaged one goal per game through the month of October.
In November, Andersen continued to play well and Anaheim started to turn things around winning the first four games in a row to start the month. The Ducks went 6-3-2 just prior to the Thanksgiving break before Andersen became severely ill. Anaheim then had to turn to John Gibson, who had the spent the entire season in San Diego with the AHL affiliate Gulls team.
For the rest of November, Gibson put up a 1.82 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. His record in his first four game was 2-1-1, but it was December where Gibson really shined for Anaheim. He went 5-3-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average, .929 save percentage, and three shutouts in 10 appearances, resulting in being named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for December. The Ducks had gone from one of the worst times in the Pacific Division to being in the middle of the pack.
Since December it’s been a joint effort with Gibson starting in 11 games and Andersen starting in 10. Even with the shared time though, it’s been Andersen that has played better of the two with 2.08 games-against average and .927 save percentage. He has gone 9-0-2 during that time span and hasn’t lost a game in regulation since December 21.
What should the Ducks do with their goalie situation now?
The Ducks leaned on Andersen in the beginning. They turned to Gibson when Andersen was ill, but it appears to be Andersen’s net again as he has been playing extremely well over the past two months. Bruce Boudreau could continue to split the time between the two goalies or try to ride Andersen more as the playoffs approach.
It’s not a bad idea to split the time between the two goalies, but if that is the strategy going forward then the Ducks need to re-sign Andersen, who becomes a restricted free agent(RFA) at the end of the summer. Keeping both goalies would be the best situation because both have been out due to injury or illness in the past couple seasons, so it would be beneficial to have one to step in if the other is out for any reason. Also if the Ducks only have one main goalie, then they would have to turn to Anton Khudobin if the starter is out. This is something Murray may not want to do.
Of course finances will factor in keeping both goalies, if that’s the strategy. The Ducks have Gibson signed for three more seasons at a reasonable $2.3 million per season. If Bob Murray can keep the other RFAs at decent prices, then he may be able to sign Andersen long term too. The Ducks still have Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell, and Sami Vatanen as RFAs that need to be addressed. There are also the unrestricted free agents in Chris Stewart, Mike Santorelli, and recent newcomer David Perron to consider. Santorelli is the fourth leading scorer with nine goals and Stewart is right behind him with eight goals. And Perron has 13 points in 14 games with Anaheim. These players are ones the Ducks should consider bringing back next season.
There are plenty of players and contracts that Murray has to make decisions about when considering if he wants to keep both Gibson and Andersen for the future. Regardless what he decides to do with his goalie situation, someone has to step up and win a game six and/or possibly a game seven in net if the Ducks want to reach the Stanley Cup Final this year.