It’s crazy to think, trusting your Stanley Cup hopes and dreams on a 20-year old rookie, but after only two regular season games should the Anaheim Ducks start John Gibson when the NHL Playoffs start? Yes, Gibson’s professional work in the NHL ranks is just 45 games. However, in that time he’s established himself as the best goalie in the Ducks’ system posting a stat line of: 2.34 goals against average, .919 save percentage and a stellar five shutouts.
When the 2013-14 season started, Ducks’ director of player development Todd Marchant said in an interview with NHL.com about Gibson: “Ever since we drafted him, he has done nothing but get better. He’s succeeded not only in the OHL, but in international competition with the Under-18s, World Juniors, and then at the World Championship. The fact that he got invited to the Team USA [Olympic] orientation camp is proof that he is one of our top prospects we have in our organization.”
Last season, the Ducks were in the same position. They were the second seed after finishing the regular season with a solid performance by Jonas Hiller. However, what happened was Hiller and the Ducks collapsed to the Detroit Red Wings in seven games. In the last four Hiller give up 12 goals and lost three of the four. Two of those being close-out games for the Ducks.
It also doesn’t help that Hiller hasn’t had a win since March 26th. This win saw Hiller barley get past one of the league’s worst teams, the Calgary Flames 3-2. Just three days before that, Hiller shutdown another one of the league’s bottom feeders in the Florida Panthers, 6-2. However, Since the start of March, Hiller has gone a putrid 3-4-3 with 30 goals allowed.
In Gibson’s two starts with the Ducks he’s allowed only two goals. Both coming in a crucial game against division rival, the San Jose Sharks. His 2-0 record has seen him post a goals against average of 1.00 and a shutout. He’s also posted an insane save percentage of .964.
After Gibson’s first start against the Canucks, Ducks’ captain Corey Perry commented on coming into the playoffs hot saying to the LA Times, “We want to be going into the playoffs riding that high. Vancouver was a great start for us.”
The Ducks owe nothing to Hiller. Yes, he has been an instrumental part to their success in the regular season. However, just take a look at the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. The moment Marc-Andre Fleury started to struggle they made the move to Tomas Vokoun and rode him to the Eastern Conference Finals.
If the Ducks are to advance deep in the Stanley Cup Playoffs they must put their trust in the young rookie. He’s got the hot hand, he’s won in a tournament setting in the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship and his play got him an invitation to the USA Olympic Hockey camp.
Hiller, a free agent this summer, time is up. It looks like Gibson is the future of the franchise and his time is now.
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I’ve devoted most of my life to being a Pittsburgh sports fan. Currently, I live in Austin with my wife Sarah and our dogs Clooney and Maggie.. But, I had the pleasure of taking in all that is Austin, TX – mostly the Texas Stars American Hockey League franchise – for the past 4 years.