Anaheim Ducks: Goaltending Makes Team A Contender
It’s hard to predict the NHL season, however it is safe to say the Anaheim Ducks will be a contender. All you have to do is look at their roster and you will know why.
The team boasts two of the top five scorers from the 2013-2014 season, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. They went out and added Ryan Kesler, a premier center to anchor their second line, and they have two of the best young defenseman in hockey, Hampus Lindholm and Cam Fowler.
So, while the offense looks good, what can be said about their goaltending?
Good goaltending is essential for a team to go deep in the playoffs as the Ducks should know. They were led to their first Stanley Cup Finals in 2003 by goalie Jean-Sebastian Giguere (Giguere was also on the team’s 2007 Stanley Cup team).
In fact, Giguere was so good he was named playoff MVP for the 2003 Finals and the Ducks didn’t even win. For the Ducks to be a serious threat this year they need to regain that goalie magic they had in 2003. The only problem is the Ducks don’t have a true #1 goalie, they have two.
Fredrick Anderson has played more games for Anaheim than any current goalie on their roster, but it’s not much as he has only started 28 games. Anderson, who was the backup to Jonas Hiller, faired well during the 2013-2014 season sporting a 20-5 record with a .923 save percentage.
Those were the kind of numbers that playoff bound Anaheim was looking for. However, the postseason is nothing like the regular season and Anderson would soon realize that hard truth.
When Hiller struggled in the playoffs, Anderson stepped in and went a disappointing 3-2 with a .889 save percentage. Despite his poor play, he was still more effective than Hiller, but when Anderson went down with a sprained MCL the Ducks needed a starter. Other than the struggling Hiller the Ducks had only one other option.
John Gibson is the Ducks best goalie prospect this season. In fact he was tabbed by many as the NHL’s best goalie prospect. Gibson got a small taste of NHL action last season and he delivered going 3-0 with a .954 save percentage. Anaheim must have seen something because they called on him and not Hiller in the playoffs when Anderson got injured.
Unlike Anderson, Gibson stepped his game up in the playoffs. While he only went 2-2 he possessed a .919 save percentage and recorded one shutout. Gibson’s shutout came in only his fourth NHL game.
So who is the ideal candidate to start for the Ducks?
As it stands now Frederick Anderson and Gibson will fight it out for the starting job during training camp. The lesser of the two will probably head to the AHL, as the Ducks will likely use Jason LaBarbera, a career backup, as the #2 goalie.
The Ducks have two very good options at goalie. Gibson may have the higher upside but Anderson has the experience. The Ducks would be highly rewarded from someone who has the upside of Gibson, but they also would benefit from Anderson’s experience as well.
Whether it be Anderson or Gibson the victor of the training camp battle will be in net at the start of year, but if either happen to struggle you can rest assured they will have no reservations to make a change.