When the Anaheim Ducks opened their inaugural season as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim back on Oct. 8, 1993, John Gibson was a mere two months old.
When the Mighty Ducks were no longer Mighty in 2006, Gibson couldn’t even drive a car.
When the Ducks began their quest for the Stanley Cup in 2014, Gibson was a 20 year-old starting netminder with the Norfolk Admirals, Anaheim’s AHL affiliate.
When Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau needed to make a decision on who to start in possibly the biggest game of the year for his squad on Saturday night, Gibson was 20 years and 330 days old.
When he woke up today as a 20-year and 331 day old native of Pittsburgh, Gibson was the hot story for the Ducks.
He woke up as the future for the Ducks.
But more importantly, he woke up as the now for the Ducks.
In his first game since being recalled from Norfolk, Gibson turned in a spectacular performance in Game 4, turning away all 28 shots he faced as he led a desperate Ducks club to a 2-0 victory in Los Angeles that knotted the series at 2-2.
The win has turned the tide in Anaheim’s favor as the Ducks and Kings head back to Honda Center for Game 5 on Monday night. And after a sensational showing in Game 4 by the young goaltender, the day-to-day debate about who should man the pipes seems to be over.
In a very “un-Boudreau like” move, the coach announced today that Gibson would be the starter for Game 5.
Now with a clear-cut No. 1 in net, Boudreau can’t play his favorite mind game “Guess the Goalie” anymore.
In his short tenure with the Ducks, Gibson has not caved or been afraid. The young netminder has yet to show any nerves or uneasiness while playing up with the big club despite seeing majority of his time this season in the AHL. It’s hard to imagine that he has still only played in four career NHL games.
In two of those four games, Gibson recorded a shutout. He’s faced a total of 115 shots in his NHL career and has only given up four goals for a remarkable .965 SV%.
People always say that hot goaltending is the difference come playoff time and no one in the NHL is hotter than Gibson.
Even before the postseason began, Boudreau considered starting the young American in the Ducks’ first round series against the Dallas Stars. Instead, Boudreau went with another rookie in Frederik Andersen after Andersen wrestled away the No. 1 spot from incumbent starter Jonas Hiller late in the regular season.
Andersen struggled toward the end of the first round series and was pulled in favor of Hiller, who became the No. 1 guy at the start of the second round. But Andersen was inserted right back in for Game 3.
When it was announced that Andersen would not suit up for Game 4 after an injury late in Game 3, Boudreau could have went back to his veteran but made the bold move and called Gibson’s number.
The decision paid off.
But not only did it pay dividends in Game 4, but the gutsy call may just put the Ducks in prime position to make a run past Los Angeles and beyond.
It’s safe to say that Gibson is the goaltender of the future, but it’s also safe to make the statement that he should be the guy moving forward the rest of the way this postseason.
Does Boudreau really have a choice?
The revolving door in the crease has been the center of speculation all postseason for the Ducks. Neither Hiller nor Andersen played well enough to stake their claim as the starter. Andersen was solid in Anaheim in the first round, but became a completely different story in Dallas and was pulled in two of the three games in Texas. Hiller hasn’t played poorly, but he hasn’t been standing on his head either.
So hasn’t it become an easy choice at this point?
Gibson has been outstanding with the Ducks and it’s time to give the reigns to the future. It’s time to give the reigns to the now.
It’s time to give Gibson the reigns.
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