24 hours ago the Anaheim Ducks‘ “goalie problems” were the talk of the NHL with questions swirling around how the team’s playoff hopes would survive if the Ducks’ situation in net continued on its recently problematic ways; starting goalie Jonas Hiller lost his last two games and backup Frederik Andersen is injured.
This morning Anaheim’s goaltending remains the talk of the league, but the note of discussion is a much more positive one thanks to the performance of AHL goalie John Gibson in his first NHL game on Monday night against the Vancouver Canucks. Gibson, stopping all 18 shots the Canucks blasted his way, became the first goalie in Ducks franchise history to get a shutout during his first NHL game — not too shabby for a 20-year old kid.
While many may argue Gibson’s job in net might have been a bit lighter last night due to Vancouver’s recent struggles, the Canucks contrarily were in a do or die situation to win last night’s game and continue on in their hopes to gain a Wild Card position. Gibson’s stellar presence simply made it look easy.
Even more positive for the team as a whole, Anaheim stepped up most particularly in the defensive zone on Monday, a place they have struggled to protect recently. After giving up 15 goals in their last four games, a new look to a few of the Ducks’ defensive pairings had Anaheim’s blue line rolling once more.
Whether it be for the mere pride of protecting a young goalie’s first NHL start during arguably the toughest week of the regular season or simply feeling the pressure to return to top form, the Ducks finally looked on Monday night like that Pacific Division title is once again within their reach.