Last spring, the Ducks became one of the few teams in NHL history to start three different goalies in three consecutive playoff games — a state of flux that, while intriguing, is something they probably don’t want to mimic this year.
And to be fair, it’ll be impossible to replicate that situation with only John Gibson and Frederik Andersen in the mix (Jonas Hiller, who made six playoff appearances last year, has departed). But the Ducks will eventually need to determine who’ll start as their playoff goalie and, with just 11 games left in the regular season, it sounds like the audition is on.
[Head coach Bruce] Boudreau has repeatedly said that John Gibson and Frederik Andersen will share the net until the start of April, but Gibson has been in goal the past three times out, all of them against potential playoff teams.
Andersen said he isn’t worried about suddenly losing playing time in a season where he’s gone 30-10-5 with a 2.37 goals-against average.
“There’s still a lot of games left,” Andersen said. “That’s how I look at it. I know that I’m going to have a chance to play.”
They’ll need to determine who will start as the playoff goalie, but a feeling that’s growing is Gibson nudging Andersen aside. Andersen sees a healthy competition down the stretch.
“I know we both have to battle for it,” Andersen said. “I know it’s going to be a long season. You saw it last year. We had three goalies playing due to different circumstances. I know that.”
Boudreau told the Register there is a plan in place for starts, but added it’s “subject to change.” There are a few dates worth keeping an eye on, however:
— On Sunday, Mar. 22, the Ducks take on the defending Eastern Conference champion Rangers at MSG.
— On Thursday, Mar. 26, the Ducks take on the Bruins at TD Garden.
— On Saturday, Mar. 28, the Ducks take on the Islanders at Nassau.
And there is, of course, tonight’s key Freeway Faceoff tilt against the Kings (no starter named yet). Boudreau has done a good job of mixing up appearances versus L.A. among his netminders this season — Andersen, Gibson and Jason LaBarbera have all been goalies of record — but tonight is the fifth and final meeting between the two this season, and a huge one for the Kings’ playoff chances.
Looking ahead to the postseason, it is worth noting that both Boudreau and the organization are extremely high on Gibson, made evident last year when the Ducks threw the 20-year-old into the fire midway through its second-round series against the Kings.
Gibson responded incredibly well — he became the youngest goalie in NHL history to record a shutout in his playoff debut — but it has to be noted that he got the nod over Andersen because the Danish netminder suffered an injury in Game 3 of the series.