The two youngsters spent most of their season with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals.
Despite outstanding seasons at the AHL level, neither saw much time with the Ducks as Anaheim roared out to another fantastic start.
But as the injury bug made its’ rounds through the Ducks’ locker room, Smith-Pelly and Gibson both got the call to head west.
And they’ll stay west.
Gibson has taken the hockey world by storm with two outstanding performances in Games 4 and 5. He shutout the star laden Kings’ offense in Los Angeles and turned in 39-save effort in Anaheim to give the Ducks a 3-2 series lead.
After Game 5, it was clear that the Kings are getting frustrated with the 20 year-old netminder.
“I think Gibson is the best goalie I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe we even got one by him tonight.” – Kings head coach Darryl Sutter‘s sarcastic response when asked about Gibson.
In the offensive zone, Smith-Pelly is making a name of his own. In the first round clincher against the Dallas Stars, Smith-Pelly scored two goals, including the game-tying tally with 24 seconds left in the contest. Anaheim would go on to win in overtime to get to the second round.
Smith-Pelly has continued his goal scoring prowess against Los Angeles. He’s potted three goals in the past two games and has found a spot on the top line with stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. With typical first line forward Matt Beleskey still nursing an injury, Smith-Pelly should continue to see time at the top.
The past two games have shown just how deep the Ducks are. Both players were afterthoughts majority of the year and are now producing at a high level on the game’s biggest stage. Along with Smith-Pelly and Gibson, players such as Sami Vatanen and Emerson Etem have stepped up when called upon. Vatanen, a speedy offensive defenseman, has played 20 or more minutes in two of the three games he’s played in this series.
Not to mention, the Ducks’ starting goalie to begin the playoffs, Frederik Andersen, is also a good-looking rookie.
The future is bright in Anaheim and it has put the Ducks on the cusp of a Conference Finals berth.
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