The Anaheim Ducks fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning at Honda Center on Sunday night by a final score of 2-1, and while it may have seemed like a very close game on the stat sheet, it only appears that way because of the play of John Gibson. Tampa Bay finished the game with 37 shots on goal and only two tallies to show for it.
This is especially impressive, given that the Ducks are missing so many players that would potentially help possession metrics to look a bit more respectable and that the Lightning have players like Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, and Vladislav Namestnikov on their roster, just to name a few. With goalscorers that looked dangerous on the ice seemingly every shift, goaltenders are bound to see a number of dangerous chances throughout a 60 minute hockey game.
John Gibson made at least four or five spectacular saves that I can think of off the top of my head, and without him, this game more than likely would have been a blowout in favor of the visitors from Florida. Add in the fact that this was John Gibson’s return to the net after missing a couple games due to a head injury sustained against the Los Angeles Kings, and it looks like he has not missed a beat on his quest to lead the injury-riddled Ducks to a playoff spot.
The Ducks were unable to come away from this game with a point to show for it, and that’s truly a shame for John Gibson, who deserved at least one, if not two, points for the performance that he displayed. Anaheim looked dangerous to end the game and had a number of quality chances to tie the game up and potentially force an overtime, but only seven shots on goal in each of the first two periods against a team like the Lightning isn’t going to yield positive results very often.
“If you allow that (puck possession) to a skilled group like the Tampa Bay Lightning, they’re going to make us look pretty ordinary, and they did.” -Randy Carlyle
It is time for Anaheim to make better use of the opportunities that John Gibson is providing them, and it is also time for the national media to recognize that John Gibson is one of the best goaltenders in the league and should be in the conversation for the Vezina trophy this year. He has been incredible all year long and has kept a depleted Ducks team in a number of games that they should have lost, and even has stolen a few points in the standings from his performances. He deserves the spotlight of being mentioned among the top goaltenders in the league and I feel like he has a very strong case for being a top-5 goaltender in the NHL.
Best & Worst
John Gibson - This one speaks for itself, as the first four paragraphs of this article should tell you. Another absolutely stellar performance from Gibson, and the Ducks can send most of their thanks to him for their current position in the standings. If he continues to play as he has been through the first nearing quarter of the season, Anaheim will be in a very good spot once the full roster is back and healthy.
Hello do you have minute to talk about our lord and savior John Gibson?— Anaheim Calling (@AnaheimCalling) November 13, 2017
Chris Wagner - Chris Wagner continues to impress in his new role as the center of the shutdown line with Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano. To be matched up against the line of Stamkos, Kucherov, and Namestnikov and come away with an assist and a 64% faceoff percentage is no small feat. When Ryan Kesler inevitably returns to his spot at the center of this line, Wagner will be moved back down, but it is safe to say that he has proven himself a great depth center option for the Anaheim Ducks.
The First 40 Minutes - To put it as simply as possible, getting outshot 29-14 through the first two periods of play against the best team in the NHL will most likely never lead to a win. Teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning have to be put on their heels early and often if opposing teams want to come away with points, and the Ducks failed to find any kind of working rhythm until it was too late, unfortunately. It was not a poor effort all around, but the scoreboard certainly could have reflected much different results without John Gibson making timely saves when he did.
The No Goal Call - Before anyone gets up in arms about the no goal call on Brandon Montour’s shot that got lodged underneath the leg pad of Andrei Vasilevskiy, I will say that I agree with the call on the ice. The rulebook states that there must be conclusive evidence that the puck crossed the goal line, and while it can certainly be inferred that the puck must have crossed the goal line at some point while underneath his leg pad, it could not be shown with conclusive evidence, leaving the officiating crew with no choice but to state that there was inconclusive evidence and the call on the ice stands. Quite frankly, while it would have been nice to see the goal count and a potential overtime period follow, the Ducks did not really deserve the win tonight as it was, and perhaps this was the Hockey Gods dealing another swift round of justice. In any case, this ends up on the “Worst” list, because it killed a lot of positive momentum that the Ducks had going early on in their power play that looked surprisingly dangerous for a change.
3 Stars of the Game
1. John Gibson - Undeniably the first star of the game in my books
2. J.T. Brown - Game winners are hard to deny, especially with shots that look that nice
3. Andrei Vasilevskiy - He made a number of timely saves late in the game to keep Tampa Bay ahead and deserves the props for holding strong to give the Lightning the two points
The Ducks are back in action on Wednesday night when they host the Boston Bruins at Honda Center.
Is John Gibson a Top 5 goaltender in the NHL?
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