Jason Brough

Gibson to start Game 1 for Ducks, but Andersen ‘ready for the playoffs as well’


Frederik Andersen‘s shutout in the final game of the Ducks’ regular season didn’t change Bruce Boudreau’s mind.

John Gibson was reportedly the first goalie off the ice this morning in Anaheim, confirmation that he’ll be the Ducks’ starter tonight in Game 1 of their series with Nashville.

On Sunday, Andersen made 24 saves in a 2-0 win over the Capitals in Washington. The 26-year-old finished the season 22-9-7 with a .919 save percentage.

From Sunday’s story in the Los Angeles Daily News:

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said he had John Gibson penciled to start Game 1 and hasn’t changed his mind. But there are also four days until then. “Got a long ride home though,” he said.

“Freddie was tremendous,” Boudreau said. “That could have been as good as I’ve ever seen him. His movements. He was square to the puck. There was no extra movements in his game. It certainly was sending a message to us that I know he hasn’t played for a little bit but he’s ready for the playoffs as well.”

Like Andersen, Gibson enjoyed a fine season, the 22-year-old finishing 21-13-4 with a .920 save percentage.

Unlike Andersen, Gibson is the goalie the Ducks have been grooming to become their starter since drafting him 39th overall in 2011. He’s signed through 2018-19 for a cap hit of just $2.3 million.

Andersen, meanwhile, is a pending restricted free agent who, based on speculation, could end up on the trading block in the offseason.

Of course, a lot could happen between now and the summer. Gibson is the man now. But with Andersen available, Gibson better be good.

Chris Bourque named AHL MVP

Nashville Predators v Washington Capitals

Hershey Bears forward Chris Bourque has been named the American Hockey League’s most valuable player.

From the league’s press release:

The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 30 cities.

Bourque is vying for his second career AHL scoring title in 2015-16, heading into the final weekend of the regular season with a career-high 30 goals and a league-best 79 points in 70 games played.

Bourque, 30, is the son of Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque. In July, he signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Capitals. Before that, he was part of the Rangers organization.

Bourque has appeared in 51 career NHL games for the Capitals, Penguins and Bruins, scoring twice with six assists. He’s also spent time playing in Europe.

The list of past AHL MVPs includes Tyler Johnson (2013) and Jason Spezza (2005).

Before hockey fans freak out about the NBA’s experiment with jersey ads…

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Gary Bettman was right — the NHL “won’t be the first” of the Big Four professional sports league to have advertising on their jerseys.

That’s because the NBA will be the first. The basketball league announced it today.

From the NBA’s press release:

The NBA Board of Governors approved the sale of jersey sponsorships, beginning with the 2017-18 season, as part of a three-year pilot program. The sponsorship patch will appear on the front left of the game jerseys opposite the Nike logo. Patches will measure approximately 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches and be adjusted to fit the dimensions of each sponsor’s logo. 

Now, let’s face it, the NHL may go down a similar path in the future, because….money.

But for now, just keep in mind what the commissioner said in September when the league announced its deal with Adidas.

“There have been some suggesting this deal means it is inevitable there’ll be advertising on uniforms – and that’s just not true,” said Bettman, per the Globe and Mail.

“Our sweaters, among all the other sports, are I think iconic, which is why I’ve previously been quoted as saying, ‘we certainly won’t be the first’ and you’d probably have to drag me, kicking and screaming [to do it], which would take a lot – a lot, a lot – of money.”

The Panthers didn’t have a sellout last night, and people sure noticed


Well, you knew whatever the attendance was last night in Sunrise, it would be a story one way or another.

If the Panthers had drawn a sellout for Game 1 of their playoff series versus the Islanders, it would be the story of a franchise that was finally starting to make inroads in the South Florida market.

Alas, the Panthers didn’t sell out, and so it was another story.

From the Miami Herald:

By the way, a Canadian TV broadcast from the arena reported the crowd was about 12,000, a ludicrously low guesstimate that had Panthers general manager Dale Tallon fuming in the press box.

Poor Canada has no team in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time since 1970, or else that TV station might have been covering one of its own teams instead of being in South Florida. Anyway, the attendance was 17,422, credible, though surprisingly some 2,000 shy of a sellout.

It turns out Panthers fans, like their team, weren’t quite good enough as the playoffs began. You wait four years for another playoff shot and you can’t fill the barn?

The Panthers and Isles are right back at it tonight at BB&T Center. No word on the expected size of the crowd.

For the record, Florida did show a marked improvement in attendance this season, going from an average crowd of 11,265 last year to 15,384 this year.

Coach Q would love the Blues to get to 70 hits


ST. LOUIS (AP) Besides winning their playoff opener in overtime over the defending Stanley Cup champions, the St. Louis Blues hoped to exact a physical toll.

The Blues were credited with outhitting the Chicago Blackhawks 41-24 in Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory.

They got some unlikely contributions, too, with rookie forward Robby Fabbri sending Michal Rozsival to the dressing room with a well-timed check.

“Just playoff hockey, a lot of emotions,” Fabbri said. “I just got knocked over right before that, just thought I’d try and get someone back.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said there are no physical issues with his team. Chicago anticipates forward Andrew Ladd will be in the lineup, too, after the player returned to Chicago just in time for the birth of a child.

Quenneville scoffed at Blues coach Ken Hitchcock’s statement that he’d like the Blues to get 70 hits in Game 2 on Friday night.

“I hope he tries to go to 70, it means we got the puck the whole (game),” Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks won’t be pushed around. They also hope to counteract the Blues’ physical play with speed.

“Every team tries to be physical and get in on the forecheck and things like that,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “For us, we want to play our game and get the puck up to our forwards and try to create things off the rush, use our speed and get pucks to the net.”

Over the long haul, the Blues expect the hits to add up. They believe they’re the deeper team.

“It’s not just pounding,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “Every opportunity you have to make them play an honest game and play hard, come later in the series it’s going to pay off.”

Shattenkirk remembered being affected by the uptick in physical play in the postseason earlier in his career.

“As a player when you’re constantly getting bumped into, it can be frustrating if you let it get to you,” Shattenkirk said.

“Especially guys who like to skate with the puck, who like to join the rush, who just want to really not be touched out there, you find yourself almost like you’re in quicksand.”

“Maybe you bruise a guy up and it just affects him a little bit, and that’s something we’re trying to do.”

The Blues make no apologies for the bad bounce that resulted in the only goal.

David Backes was attempting a cross-ice pass to Alexander Steen, loading up for a one-timer, when the puck deflected off defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk‘s skate and trickled between Corey Crawford‘s pads.

“In overtime, there’s no such thing as a bad shot,” Backes said. “It was ugly, but it counts.”

The Blackhawks also realize it’s just one game.

“I don’t think you ever just brush it off,” Seabrook said. “But I think for our group, we’ve been here before and we’ve been in this situation. We’re a confident group.”

Related: “No human can withstand that many hits”