[Ed. Note: Due to scheduling issues, this post is running a day late, all stats are valid as of Saturday morning -CK]
1 Norfolk is 1-for-27 on the PP over the last 5 games.
2 Antoine Laganiere (5G, 2A) scored two goals against the Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes) Thursday in Charlotte.
3 Zack Stortini (3G, 3A) scored his third goal of the season Friday against the Adirondack Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers).
4 Goaltender John Gibson is 1-3 in December. In four games he has given up 18 goals and has a 4.54 GAA, and a .825 save percentage this month. His only win has come in a shootout.
5 Norfolk has won only five games at home this season and is 5-7-0-2 at Scope.
6 Rookie Max Friberg leads the team in plus/minus with plus-6. He netted two goals, an assist and was plus-3 versus the Phantoms Friday night, had one goal in Charlotte Thursday, one goal against Charlotte Saturday, and is currently on a three game goal streak with four goals in three games.
7 Through seven games played in December, Norfolk is 3-3-1-0. Following their goals for / goals against season trend, Norfolk has scored 25 goals and allowed 27.
8 The Admirals managed to pot eight goals in their last two games (four and four) but were unable to keep the puck out of their own net and ended up losing both games.
9 Captain Garnet Exelby picked up his ninth assist and ninth point of the season Thursday vs Charlotte.
10 John Gibson allowed ten goals combined in back-to-back games Thursday and Friday, losing both contests 5-4 versus Charlotte and Adirondack.
--John Gibson. Prior to the start of the season, he was seen as the future in Anaheim's net. He brought with him an impressive resume including a Gold Medal in the World Junior Championships and a Bronze in the Men's World Championships. He started the season in Norfolk on a high note, going 3-1-0-2 in six games in Oct and 5-4-0-1 in November. His 1.44GAA and .953 save percentage in October and 2.64GAA and .922 in November were good enough to keep him at or near the top of the league.
He was a target in a shooting galery, seeing shot totals over 35 seven times in those two months, and two games of 50 shots against in November. He carried the team on his shoulders when Frederik Andersen was called up to Anaheim due to injuries, and only got a small amount of relief after Brad Thiessen was signed a few weeks ago. There was everything to like about him, high hopes, and an almost god-like perception from fans. Those "golden months" seem like an eternity ago.
Gibson hasn't had a game with a save percentage over .900 since November 27. His only win in December has been in a shootout, allowing four goals. He's lost the other three games, being scored on 14 times in those losses and 18 times in December. In fact, between October and November Gibson played in 18 games and gave up 38 goals (2.21 GAA). So far in December he has started five games and given up 21 goals (4.54 GAA).
I asked Coach Yawney if Gibson was 100%, if there could be something tangible affecting his game. His response was simply that Gibson has to fight through this, he has to figure out how to battle through this low point. I asked about starting him on back-to-back nights, could that have affected his play on Friday, and the response was simply "He's done it before and been successful."
Yawney also made it a point to say that "Gibson will lose confidence in himself long before the coaches and the players lose confidence in him." Friday night's game saw Gibson give up two soft goals including a long shot from the point he kicked in to his own net after it squeeked through him, with the worst part about the goal being that it happened 20 seconds after Norfolk took a 3-2 lead.
So is it a loss of confidence that's causing Gibson to play so poorly? Could it still be lingering effects from an injury that saw him removed from a game in Syracuse (Tampa Bay Lightning) at the end of November? Is he just tired? We'll never know the answer, as neither players nor coaches will ever admit to any of the possibilities.
Captain Garnet Exelby said that Gibson stole some games for the Admirals that maybe they didn't deserve to win, and now it's finally caught up with the team. It's clear that Norfolk's lack of offense, spotting opposing teams leads, and giving up 30+ shots per night puts most of the burden of winning on the goaltenders. I'm more inclined to believe however that John Gibson, for all the talent he has, is finally seeing his reputation and fans' expectations outgrow his ability.
He most certainly has a future in the NHL, but I believe we are seeing the real John Gibson right now, the kid who needs to grow in to his future. Gibson is strong and skilled, and there's no doubt he'll work himself through this rough patch. Fans however need to finally take off the rose-colored glasses and dump all those accolades he accumulated before he started playing with grown men. Instead, Admirals and Ducks fans need to let him do what the AHL is so well known for doing: develop.
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