Based on the last 24 hours, you almost get the feeling L.A. is a little tired of hearing about John Gibson.
Anaheim’s rookie netminder, who has won two straight against the Kings while stopping 67 of 70 shots, has become a major story in this second-round series — and the Kings are not-so-subtly trying to put the 20-year-old in his place.
“As good as he is, he’s not impossible to beat,” Kings d-man Drew Doughty said, per the Associated Press. “I’d take Quickie [Jonathan Quick] over him any day still.”
Doughty’s remarks come the day after L.A.’s 4-3 loss and subsequent comments made by head coach Darryl Sutter, who sarcastically refereed to Gibson as the most amazing goalie he’s ever laid eyes on.
“He’s the best goalie I’ve ever seen,” Sutter said, with just the slightest bit of sarcasm. “I can’t believe he got one by him tonight.”
Intentional or not, both sets of comments put Quick in a spotlight with Gibson — and it’ll be very interesting to see how that plays out. Quick’s a fiery competitor that’s shown a history of rallying when his back’s up against the wall; in 2013, he rebounded from allowing two shaky goals against the Blues to capture the series in four straight and, this year, he responded brilliantly after going down 0-3 to San Jose. Quick will need to be as good now — if not better — after giving up nine goals on his last 57 shots faced, posting a sub-par .842 save percentage.
The other thing to consider from Sutter and Doughty’s comments? The mental angle.
The Kings clearly want to try and ratchet up the pressure on Gibson because — as they showed against San Jose — winning the fourth game of a series is by far the most difficult. For as good as the Ducks’ netminder has been, he’s still a 20-year-old kid with just five NHL starts on his resume and that lack of experience could loom large in high-intensity situations.
Just ask Sutter.
“A lot of pressure on [Gibson] now,” he explained. “A lot of pressure on him.”
As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.
On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.
He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.
From CSN Mid-Atlantic:
The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.
Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.
He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.
The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.
There was no call on the play.
Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.
Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.
Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.
That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:
The Anaheim Ducks have been without goalie John Gibson for almost two full weeks because of injury, but head coach Randy Carlyle provided reason for optimism on Thursday.
Per reports, Gibson took part in practice and Carlyle has said that his No. 1 netminder will play again during the regular season. Anaheim has nine games remaining on its schedule.
That’s good news for Anaheim heading into the post-season.
While Gibson has been out, Jonathan Bernier has stepped beyond his back-up role and provided solid goaltending for the Ducks during the stretch drive — which should also be a bonus for this club with the playoffs quickly approaching.
Bernier has wins in six of his last seven starts. In nine games this month, he has only twice allowed three goals or more.
The Ducks have fought their way back into contention for the Pacific Division with a recent surge that has coincided with San Jose’s current skid — only four wins in their last 10 games and four straight losses.
Related: Career back on track, Bernier hopes he can re-sign in Anaheim