Ducks face prospect of entering playoffs without clear Game 1 goalie

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The Anaheim Ducks are unique in the NHL in that they only have four games left in their regular season schedule. They also have essentially won their division and might even capture the Presidents’ Trophy. So it’s safe to call the regular season a success, but one thing it hasn’t produced is a clear Game 1 starter for the playoffs.

Going into the campaign both Frederik Andersen and John Gibson looked like equally viable candidates for that role given their potential and relative lack of NHL experience. For much of the season it looked like Andersen would run away with the starting gig, although that was partially due to Gibson suffering a groin injury early in the campaign.

Now they’re both healthy and have split the Ducks’ duties pretty evenly this month. Gibson was the latest to get the nod on Sunday and led Anaheim to a 2-1 victory over New Jersey.

Along the way he made this gem of a save:

“He never stops,” Ducks forward Ryan Kesler told the Orange County Register. “I think three or four times, they had a wide-open net. He throws something. Stick, leg, arm. Somehow, he keeps it out of the net. He’s a special talent.”

At the same time, Gibson did surrender four goals in each of his previous two games. At the end of the day, neither goaltender has significantly beaten out the other this month and with so little action left in Anaheim’s schedule, it seems unlikely that this matter will be cleanly settled before the playoffs.

Going into the postseason without an obvious number one is typically not desirable, but the Ducks don’t see this as a negative.

“It’s a great battle to have,” Corey Perry said. “They’re playing at the top of their game. They’re battling. And that’s all we can ask for. You’d rather have 1A and 1B rather than one and four. It’s a good thing.”