Every hockey fan out there knows that goalies are weird. Well, just when you all thought you knew which goalies could be relied upon, the playoffs roll around. Some like the 2009 Jonas Hiller’s, come out and steal a series. Others like the playoff version of Brian Elliot seal a team’s fate before they even step on the ice.
While most goalies like to stay out of the spotlight, unless they’re making an unnecessary scene like Jonathan Quick, they shoulder the burden of their teams in the postseason. If they win, goalies get a majority of the glory. If they lose, they’re instantly vilified into a playoff failure. There is a fine line between a Stanley Cup Champion goalie and a run in the mill guy from Canada.
John Gibson is a top 5 NHL goalie. You heard me. The leader of the Frederick Andersen fan club just said that. Gibson carries a .926 sv% heading into the postseason. That puts him 8th overall in the league. However when you only look at goalies that have played over 50 games, he is just second to Pekka Rinne at .927 sv%. Digging a little deeper past NHL.com’s surface stats, Gibson is also 2nd in Goals Prevented Above Average with 26.05. As a comparison, Scott Darling is -27.49.
Dom Luszczyszyn, reporter at The Athletic, cited a metric called GSVA, or Game Score Value Added, in his recent article centered on the Ducks vs. Sharks playoff series. John Gibson is listed at a 4.4. As a comparison, the next highest Ducks is Hampus Lindholm at 2.6. To say this isn’t Gibson’s team would be an understatement. As Gibson goes, so do the Ducks.
The biggest question heading into this series is John Gibson’s health. Sure, he has been injured multiple times this season. But as CJ Woodling pointed out, his injuries are typically a result of Ducks skaters leadershipping opponents into their own goalie. Ryan Kesler was the latest Duck to do this. His perceived injuries are not a huge deal considering he still played in 60 games. The real issue is that Gibson has never played that many games in a span of a season. His old record was a measly 52 set last year. Can Gibson remain sharp even with his extensive workload? We’ll just have to wait and see.
San Jose Sharks:
Martin Jones is no Evgeni Nabakov. Jones is alright. After all he does wear Vaughn pads so how good can he really be? Good enough to get his team to the playoffs, but his numbers are not anything special.
The ex Los Angeles Kings’ goalie is rocking a .915 sv% this season. That’s just below his career average of .916, but still nothing to boast about on a consistent playoff team. Just like Gibson, Martin Jones played in 60 games during the 2017-2018 season. In that time, he is at 10.82 Goals Prevented Above Average. According to Dom, Jones also has a 1.0 GSVA.
Jones does have a decent advantage over Gibson. He gives up fewer rebounds per game. Although this can be attributed to seeing roughly 200 shots less this season, this is still a strength for Jones. The Ducks are a team that loves to throw pucks into the crease. However if Jones can calmly cover or efficiently move pucks away from the net, San Jose defenders will feel a lot more confident in their own zone. This is a huge advantage for the playoffs where it seems like the Pacific is usually determined by a few greasy goals. As a result, the Ducks may have to rely on quality shots rather than scrappy play a few feet in front of the net.
Who Has the Advantage?
Well it’s the Ducks of course. Gibson wears CCM pads, which gives him that extra boost in the playoffs. As long as Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler don’t push other team’s skaters into Gibson, the Ducks should be able to contend in all seven games of the series. You heard it here first.
Stats are from NHL.com, The Athletic, and Crowdscoutsports.com.