Welcome to 2017, Ducks style.
There was a lot to digest Sunday, both good and bad, for Anaheim. Goalie John Gibson tied a franchise regular-season record with 51 saves. Ryan Kesler got his first hat trick as a Duck. Teemu Selanne rode the Zamboni before the game and the Ducks’ somehow managed a 4-3 shootout win against the Philadelphia Flyers at Honda Center.
Here’s what we learned:
Gibson made a statement
The Ducks in summer made an executive decision to make Gibson, 23, their franchise goalie over Frederik Andersen, and that has come under the spotlight lately with Andersen all the rage with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
But Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle has turned to Gibson in key situations and Sunday was justification.
“The organization made a decision that Gibby was going to be the goalie of the future here,” Carlyle said. “We’re not going to hide that fact.”
Carlyle, like a lot of NHL coaches, has had to spread out goaltending duties because of the league’s condensed schedule. That stresses the need for No.2 Jonathan Bernier to play significantly, but Gibson was clearly the right choice.
“With Gibby, he got dialed in tonight,” Carlyle said.
Anaheim’s defense is a work in progress
The Ducks still haven’t addressed glaring breakdowns. The Flyers’ Brayden Schenn was unchecked to tap home the tying score in the third period, and the Flyers got to the net without much attention regularly late in the game. The Ducks’ third defensemen pairing of Kevin Bieksa and Korbinian Holzer was on the ice for two of Philadelphia’s goals.
“You couldn’t fault [Gibson] on the goals,” Carlyle said. “It was poor defensive zone coverage from our perspective.”
Practice is in order
Carlyle wanted to get through the “craziness” of a Ducks schedule that had them play 15 games in December and then on New Year’s Day. They will have two days off to presumably work on defense.
Carlyle said postgame that it will be the first such practice time in “45 days.”