All the Los Angeles Kings have heard about in the past few days is Anaheim Ducks rookie sensation John Gibson. The 20-year-old goalie, who came out of nowhere to start Game 4 this past Saturday, has looked phenomenal. His shutout performance over the weekend was followed up with last night’s 39 save effort in Game 5, helping his club take a 3-2 series lead. All in all, Gibson has only allowed three goals on 70 shots faced.
The Kings, who took an early 2-0 lead in the series, have lost three straight, heading back home with hopes of staving off elimination. Meanwhile, the entire L.A. team has been forced to listen to the hype about Gibson. The media has been all over the Ducks goalie, dubbing him the future of American goaltending and essentially making it sound like Anaheim has put a brick wall in net.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter is dealing with just as many questions about Gibson as his players are, and it certainly sounds like he’s heard just about enough of how amazing the young netminder is. When questioned about Gibson after last night’s loss, Sutter threw out an answer laced with sarcasm.
“He’s the best goalie I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how we ever got one past him tonight.”
As you can see, Sutter has grown a little tired of the Gibson hype machine. Honestly, a deadpan comment like this was probably the best way the Kings coach could’ve responded.
Sutter knows his team is frustrated about their inability to faze Gibson, as well as how much they have to hear about it later. And the more his players have to deal with questions about why they can’t seem to rattle this young goalie, the more it’ll start to eat at them. The last thing Sutter wants is his club doubting themselves because Gibson has gotten into their heads, especially when facing elimination.
It’d have been easy for Sutter to give a defeated, “we just can’t figure this kid out” kind of answer to all of the questions about Gibson. At the same time, this may have resulted in his team concurring, questioning their approach and overall second-guessing every shot come Wednesday night. Facing elimination is already enough pressure as it is, but having your coach showing any sense of doubt about your ability to put the puck in the net would only add to the anxiety.
It sounds trivial to base so much on simple post-game comments, but they really do have more of an effect than you might think. Everybody on the L.A. roster is being peppered about how amazing Gibson has been, almost painting him as some sort of Kings Kryptonite. It’s only a matter of time before something like this causes doubt to creep in. Instead, Sutter scoffed at the idea that Gibson is superhuman, that his team should frame any puck they can put past him.
Being one loss away from elimination, the Kings desperately need to find a way to score consistently on Gibson. Hearing Sutter sarcastically praise the Anaheim goalie won’t put pucks in the net, but it will help to remove doubt from his team. Something like that could definitely go a long way for L.A.