John Gibson appears to be Ducks’ starting goalie vs. Carolina
John Gibson was the first Ducks goalie off the ice at Thursday’s morning skate here, indicating that later in the day he would be making his first start since Oct. 30 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
As the Ducks (34-14-7) continued to struggle defensively in Tuesday’s 6-2 loss in Florida -- Anaheim has given up 30 goals in its last seven games -- Gibson was summoned to replace that night’s starter, Ilya Bryzgalov, after Bryzgalov gave up three goals on eight shots.
Gibson was also struck for three goals, but those came on 18 shots and twice the Ducks exhibited horrific defense.
Gibson was called up from minor-league Norfolk on Monday after Ducks starting goalie Frederik Andersen was placed on injured reserve. Andersen was struck on the back of the neck in Sunday’s 5-3 loss at Tampa Bay, falling face-first to the ice. He will be out at least until next week.
After Wednesday’s practice in Raleigh, Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said of the goalie situation, “I know what I’m doing. There’s a lot of clarity on it.”
Gibson, 21, was 2-2 in the playoffs last season, winning Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Kings. He was outplayed by Andersen in preseason, but given the nod of a season-opening start in Pittsburgh because it’s his hometown.
He was 2-2 this season, including a 38-save shutout at Chicago Oct. 28, but suffered a serious groin injury. While Andersen thrived, appearing in 20 consecutive games Nov. 7 to Dec. 18, the Ducks opted to leave Gibson in Norfolk and sign Bryzgalov, 34.
Boudreau on Thursday played coy about who was starting Thursday night against the Hurricanes (19-26-7), who haven’t played since Saturday and took the Ducks to overtime before losing Feb. 3 at Honda Center.
DEFENSE-MINDED? As the Ducks worked intensely Wednesday to clean up their defensive flaws and address lazy play that led to nine penalties in Tuesday’s loss, Boudreau at one point barked fiercely at defenseman Sami Vatanen.
Vatanen, with 12 goals and 34 points, is in the midst of a breakout offensive year, but he is a defenseman and focus on those responsibilities is the highest priority.
“We all know what we have to do ... get the puck in deep and we can’t let them score five, six goals a game,” Vatanen said. “We hold teams to one, two, we win the games.
“I don’t think too much on the ice. I just play my game, do my best, try and help the team win games. The main thing for me is winning.
“Of course, you have to play defense first. After that comes the offense.”
Was that point hammered home by Boudreau?
“I don’t remember what he was saying,” Vatanen said.
ROSTER MOVE: The Ducks moved center William Karlsson back to Norfolk on Thursday. He was recalled when Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf suffered an unspecified lower-body injury (the NHL has a policy that allows teams to keep injuries general) during pre-game warm-ups in Nashville on Feb. 5.
Karlsson played 10 minutes, 31 seconds in Friday’s shootout loss at Washington, but was a healthy scratch in the next two games.
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