John Gibson

After starring for Team USA, Ducks goalie Gibson ‘ready for the NHL right now’

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One of the biggest stories from Team USA capturing bronze at the recently-completed World Championships — America’s first medal since 2004 — was the play of 19-year-old netminder John Gibson.

Gibson, Anaheim’s second-round pick (39th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, went into the tournament behind Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop, but wrestled away the starting gig and ended up being one of the top goalies in the tournament.

“The only game he lost over there was against Switzerland, and they were territorially superior most of the game,” assistant executive director of USA Hockey Jim Johannson told the OC Register. “And it was 1-0 in the third, thanks to John. It’s hard to steal a game when you don’t score a goal.”

Piero Greco, Gibson’s former goalie coach with OHL Kitchener, had even more praise.

“He is ready for the NHL right now,” Greco said.

All of this presents an interesting situation for the Ducks.

Despite Greco’s assertion, Gibson probably won’t be in the NHL next season — it’s likely he’ll be with AHL Norfolk — but it’s clear he isn’t far off from competing for a spot with in Anaheim.

What does that mean for the current goalies, Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth?

Hiller’s heading into the final season of his four-year, $18 million deal and will be a UFA in 2014.

Fasth so quickly impressed Ducks brass this season that he was rewarded with a two-year, $5.8 million extension,after just eight games at the NHL level.

The X-factor here is the age of both Hiller and Fasth.

They’re both on the wrong side of 30 (Hiller turned 31 in February; Fasth is 31 in August) and Hiller is now two years removed from his 2011 All-Star appearance.

As such, the timing for Gibson could work out well, as both incumbents are expected to be off the books by the 2015-16 season. Gibson would be 22 by then, with a fair amount of experience at the AHL level.

Whatever the case, Greco says the Ducks have a good one in the making.

“His composure and poise have been outstanding all along,” Greco said. “He’s a leader in our room. That, even beyond his ability, is what sets him apart.”

Hockey tough: Mark Stone shakes off skate to face, scores

Ottawa Senators right wing Mark Stone celebrates his game winning goal during overtime against the Boston Bruins during an NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Ontario, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016.  The Senators defeated the Bruins 2-1. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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You’d think the reaction to taking a skate to the face would be something like “Not coming back to that game, getting some ice and maybe do some soul-searching.”

Nope, not in the NHL, at least.

In this league, the real reaction is almost always to come back to the same game … and barely miss a beat.

Ottawa Senators Mark Stone provides the latest example of hockey toughness, as he bounced back almost immediately from this.

What did he do? He scored a nice goal in the Senators’ 6-1 blowout of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.