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.”
Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?
While lineups are obviously subject to change, CSNPhilly.com notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.
Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.
That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench, and that’s only counting what the Flyers are paying Gagner.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”
The CSNPhilly.com quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.
Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.
It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.
One of the NHL’s most notorious hitters has been tagged by the league.
On Monday, the Department of Player Safety announced that San Jose forward Raffi Torres has been suspended 41 games — half of the regular season — for an illegal check to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.
The length of Torres’ suspension is a combination of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ history of delivering hits to the heads of opposing players, including Jordan Eberle, Jarret Stoll, Nate Prosser and Marian Hossa.
“Torres has repeatedly violated league playing rules,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “And has been sanctioned multiple times for similar infractions.”
The league also noted that Torres has been warned, fined, or suspended on nine occasions over the course of his career, “the majority of which have involved a hit to an opponent’s head.”
“Same player every year,” Ducks forward Ryan Kesler said following the hit on Silfverberg. “I played with the guy [in Vancouver]. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”
As for what lies ahead, things could get interesting upon potential appeal:
Torres successfully appealed a suspension under the previous CBA, getting his punishment for the Hossa hit reduced from 25 to 21 games.
Under terms of the new CBA, Torres isn’t categorized as a repeat offender because his last suspension came in May of 2013 — more than two years ago.
Of course, part of the reason Torres hasn’t run afoul of the league in two years is because he’s barely played.
Knee injuries limited Torres to just 12 games in ’13-14, and he sat out last season entirely.