John Gibson’s Stellar Season Continues
It’d be irresponsible to begin discussing Saturday’s game without first pointing out just how good Gibson looked in net. He came up big in a game where Anaheim was once again out-shot and out-chanced, allowing only one goal on 22 Tampa Bay scoring chances — a staggering figure.
To date, he’s 14th overall in high-danger save percentage at 5v5 and 11th overall in total save percentage among goalies who have played at least 300 minutes this season, with .783 and .918 figures, respectively. Gibson may not be one the game’s truly elite goaltenders yet, but he’s undoubtedly forcing himself into the mix, something Anaheim is clearly benefiting from.
Sami Vatanen is Back — With a New Partner
Vatanen’s play wasn’t exactly eye-catching in his first game back, which can mostly be seen as a good thing for a guy who’s missed so much time. The 26-year old played a conservative game, eschewing the high-flying plays he’s come to be known for. His now-healed shoulder seemed fine — at least from this vantage point — as he laid out a number of body checks and fired off his trademark slapshot without any visible discomfort.
The biggest takeaway from Vatanen’s return, however, might be that head coach Randy Carlyle slotted him next to the upstart Jaycob Megna. Freshly promoted from AHL San Diego, Megna has impressed for the Ducks this season, playing a steady. puck-moving style. With a sizable frame and reach, he’s tailor-made to flank the smaller Vatanen. The two broke even in shot attempt differential in a game where Anaheim was largely out-shot, so perhaps Carlyle is on to something here.
Ryan Getzlaf: Defensive Center?
Early in the first period, Prime Ticket’s broadcast crew pointed out that Carlyle was using Getzlaf as a shutdown center against Steven Stamkos, which is far from how Getzlaf is usually deployed. Their observation certainly wasn’t inaccurate: Getzlaf logged 12:25 of 24:16 total ice time against Stamkos. Perhaps even more striking is that only 25 percent of Getzlaf’s shifts against Stamkos started in the offensive zone, furthering the idea that he was being used in a defensive role.
Is that the best use of Getzlaf’s talents? Probably not, especially when he’s the only credible playmaking center on the roster (excluding Rickard Rakell, who played on the wing). But a quick look down Anaheim’s list of centers makes it easy to understand why Carlyle would go strength for strength against one the NHL’s best lines. The Ducks were out-shot-attempted by a 2:1 ratio with Getzlaf on the ice against Stamkos, so we’ll see if this trend holds.