With John Gibson hurting again, Ryan Miller is likely to be the man in goal for the Ducks
John Gibson entered the season with durability questions, and nothing has changed to quell those fears.
If anything, the Ducks goaltender’s injury-prone label grew stickier as the calendar flipped to 2018.
The 24-year-old has avoided any catastrophic ailments thus far, but short-term injuries have nagged him.
Ryan Miller was pressed into relief duty three times over the past 30 days, most recently in Monday’s victory over the Vegas Golden Knights.
Gibson didn’t practice Tuesday and is officially day-to-day because of a lower-body injury suffered in a behind-the-net collision late in the second period.
“For right now, it’s Ryan Miller,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “It looks like it’s going to be his [net]. … Ryan Miller’s gone in and played very well for our hockey club. He gives us a chance.”
The game Wednesday against the Dallas Stars at Honda Center will be Miller’s first non-relief appearance since Feb. 6, when he gave up three goals in a win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Miller’s play, surprisingly, has been stronger in relief duty.
He started four games this month as Gibson battled an injury, and Miller lasted just over 10 minutes in one game as he was battered for three goals on seven shots. The next game, it was six goals on 39 shots.
Miller isn’t used to being the No. 2 option after 12 seasons as a starter, and he certainly isn’t used to being called on unexpectedly in the midst of a game.
But when he has been summoned, he has answered the call.
“I’ve been a starter for a long time and you just see a lot over the years,” he said. “Just because you come off the bench doesn’t mean you’re going to see too much that’s all that different.
“Stay sharp, stay ready and have it in the back of your mind that you might go in. You don’t want it at the forefront of your mind, you want to support the team and pay attention to the game.”
Miller made 20 saves Monday in the Ducks’ first combined shutout since 2002.
This is exactly what was expected of the former Vezina Trophy winner, even at 37, when he signed a two-year deal with the team last summer.
“He has a routine. That’s what good pros do,” Carlyle said. “The guys who are able to last and have long and extended careers have obviously got to a comfort zone with their preparation.”
The Ducks are at their best when Gibson is in goal. He has been sensational at times, and his play has been a bright spot for a team fighting for the playoffs.
But it’s hard to completely count on Gibson at this point. He was sidelined for almost a month last season before returning, and then was sidelined for another 20 days.
Lower-body injuries also hampered Gibson in 2015-16. The Pittsburgh native was confident that his emphasis on stretching would alter his outlook, but so far the song remains the same.
Luckily, the Ducks have Miller in net. Now, he needs to fulfill his goal.
“I’ve been happy with my results coming off the bench obviously,” he said, “and when I get to start some games I’d like the results to be there as well.”
When: 7 p.m. PST. Wednesday.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket; Radio: 830.
Update: This is the first meeting between the clubs this season, and the Ducks’ first look at coach Ken Hitchcock’s return to the Stars’ bench. Carlyle said he’s impressed with Dallas’ mobile back end, particularly John Klingberg, an All-Star who leads all NHL defensemen with 54 points. … The Ducks sit a point behind the Stars, and could find themselves fighting with Dallas for a wild-card spot.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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