Believe it or not, but the postseason-bound Ducks have a serious issue on their hands. Anaheim is in possession of two starting caliber netminders and has no clue who to turn to when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin this April.
Of course, this is a circumstance that every franchise in the National Hockey League would not mind finding themselves in. However, it poses a problem nonetheless.
The Ducks have experienced their issues in scoring goals this season but have had very little trouble stopping them from entering their own net. Anaheim is second-best in both goals-against with 156 and goals-against-per-game averaging 2.29. Ironically, these numbers are superior to every other team in the league besides Anaheim’s hated rivals, the Los Angeles Kings. The credit for these impressive statistics cannot only be given to the Ducks goalies, as the defensive units are only allowing an average of 27.4 shots per games. Most of the time, fewer shots allowed translates into fewer goals against.
Anyway, back to the Anaheim’s goaltenders. Both 22-year-old John Gibson and 26-year-old Frederik Andersen have been phenomenal all season long for the Ducks. Bench boss, Bruce Boudreau, has been given the luxury of two fantastic goalies which has eliminated any anxiety that may come with playing the team’s backup. In reality, Anaheim does not have a backup goaltender. They have more of a 1A 1B type deal. Again, this has beneficial for the organization as both men have been able to experience plenty of rest without it being costly to the teams success.
This benefit is going to turn into more of a complication as the postseason gets closer and closer. Teams normally select one netminder to be “their guy” once the playoffs get rolling and it is unclear who Boudreau will choose to be between the pipes as his Ducks take a run at Lord Stanley’s cup. So, who should it be?
The reality is, there is no clear-cut right answer to this question. Arguments can be made for both Gibson and Andersen as to who gives the Ducks the best chance at hoisting the cup this June.
Gibson has been quite impressive in his 30 games in net and is clearly Anaheim’s “goalie of the future”. He is 16-9-3 this season with a 2.07 GAA and .919 SV%. In addition, he has posted a shutout on four separate occasions. Andersen has been equally impressive in his 38 games. The third-year Anaheim goaltender has gone 19-9-6 with a 2.23 GAA and .921 SV%. Unlike Gibson, Andersen has only managed one shutout thus far.
Gibson’s numbers are slightly better than Andersen’s to date. However, Andersen has seen action in eight more contests than Gibson. In addition, Andersen experienced a little more success in his past five starts, winning four contests and allowing only nine goals. To be fair, Gibson has only let 10 pucks into the net in his past five games but has lost once in regulation and once in a shootout.
Who Will It Be?
Gibson might be Anaheim’s future star goaltender but Andersen should be the man between the pipes once the postseason is underway. He has been just as reliable as his counterpart but comes with the playoff experience that Gibson lacks. Andersen has started in 23 playoff games while Gibson has only started in four. Fans cannot forget that Andersen was the one stopping pucks for the Ducks during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs in which they made it all the way to game seven of the Western Conference Finals.
Either of these men could be selected as Anaheim’s starter for the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs and have an equal shot at success as the other guy. Unfortunately, it is best for Boudreau and the Ducks to select one and ride him until the end. It just makes the most sense to choose the most experienced goaltender. Gibson will eventually get his opportunity to lead his team into the promise land. He will just have to wait one more season.
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John Gove is an elementary school educator who writes about hockey in his spare team. Over the past five years, John has covered the game at various levels. Now, he exclusively focuses his coverage on prospects and the developmental leagues.