Two years after Jonathan Quick took the Stanley Cup Playoffs by storm, and one year after a reprisal of his strong play with major contributions in series wins over St. Louis and San Jose, the postseason spotlight no longer shines as luminous on the Kings’ goaltender, who is 6-6 with a 2.94 goals-against average and .911 save percentage through 12 games against the Sharks and Ducks.
Instead, that spotlight is squarely on 20-year-old Anaheim netminder John Gibson, who has been the center of attention since joining the second round series and stopping 67 of 70 shots faced.
There have been one or two articles written about Gibson, and when Darryl Sutter was asked about what has impressed him about the opposition’s noteworthy rookie after last night’s game, a dry, sarcastic response was both inevitable and completely warranted.
“He’s the best goalie I’ve ever seen,” Sutter said after Game 6. “I can’t believe we got one by him tonight.”
Did you really expect Sutter to wax poetic about a goaltender with five games of NHL experience only minutes after he pushed the Kings to the brink of elimination?
Are the Kings growing weary of The John Gibson Saga?
“Kind of, yes,” Marian Gaborik answered.
Judging from several responses at the team’s facility today, and from Justin Williams’ “let’s not anoint him yet,” comment before yesterday’s game, there’s the sense that the Kings are aware of the level of talent possessed by the first year pro while acknowledging that he’s still John Gibson, not Kirk.
“You know what? We know we can beat him,” Drew Doughty said. “We know he’s a very good goalie. At the same time, they’re good shot blockers. That doesn’t mean that a lot of times we’re screening him. We just need to get pucks by those guys. We got a lot of shots last night. He made some big saves. But at the same time, we haven’t done everything we can. We can get more bodies in front of him. We can get more tips, more rebounds.”
Though Doughty was cut in the mouth yesterday – “I didn’t lose any teeth thankfully,” he said – he was still able to articulate his opinion on the NHL’s goaltender hierarchy.
“As good as [Gibson] is, he’s not impossible to beat. I’d take Quickie over him any day, still.”
Drew Doughty, on why Los Angeles hasn’t played its best hockey yet in the series:
I think most of it is us. The Ducks have played well against us, obviously. They played really well. All four of their lines are very good. They all were dominating in yesterday’s game. I think a lot of it is them, but at the same time we can control what we do and we’re not doing it to the best of our ability whether individually or as a team. In order to win, we need to play as a team and we need to win as a team.
Doughty, on the team’s streaky play:
There is nothing I can put my finger on. Streaky isn’t good, we want to be consistent. It’s not like us to lose three games in a row, even though we’ve done it twice in this playoffs already. We have to turn it around pretty quick obviously. We need to win two games in a row. We’re only focusing on one at home right now, but we know exactly what we have to do and there are no excuses but to do it.
Doughty, on extending the team’s third period play over an entire game:
Of course it’s possible. The game before, we showed up for two periods. We just haven’t done it for three periods yet and that’s why we’ve been losing games. We need to make sure we come out fast tomorrow. We need to get that first goal and then we need to build on that lead. We can’t take even one shift off. If you take one shift off against that Getzlaf line they’re going to make you pay for it. We need to play a full 60 minutes, shift by shift, second by second. That’s how we’re going to have to win.
Marian Gaborik, on getting traffic in front of John Gibson:
The goals are scored in front there. You don’t get a whole lot of pretty goals, especially against a team like that where they have a lot of layers in front of them and they block a lot of shots. We found a way to get some pucks through and we just have to keep doing that tomorrow.
Gaborik, on what changed in their game after Game 2:
This series was going to be tight and everyone knew that. We won two and then they won two and now they’re up 3-2 right now. Bottom line, we just have to win tomorrow. We haven’t played our best hockey and I’m sure everybody is going to leave everything out there tomorrow. We’re confident we can get back to Anaheim.
Gaborik, on having a center like Anze Kopitar:
Those guys are very hard to find. He’s been mentioned a lot. I don’t think he gets the credit that he should around the league. He’s one of the top two-way players out there. It’s been fun to play with him of course. So we just have to bring it tomorrow and get back to Anaheim.
Gaborik, on his game and his transition to Los Angeles:
I don’t know. I just try to go out there and work hard and get into the dirty areas as well. I try to create chances for myself and for my teammates and just try to play an all-around game. It doesn’t always happen the way you want, but it’s been working pretty good. Like I said, it’s about tomorrow night’s game and everybody will be ready.
Gaborik, on getting greasy goals in this series:
They’re different goals scored. I’ve scored different ways. And of course in the playoffs, you try to get those get to the net and that’s where the pucks will be, where the rebounds will be, the ugly goals. In the playoffs you don’t have a whole lot of two-on-ones or breakaways or stuff like that. Just try to get to areas where especially where we’ve been having problems getting to their goalie and to create traffic. That’s what we need to do and that’s what I’m trying to do as well.
Gaborik, on whether he feels “relaxed” with the offensive talent on the team:
I wouldn’t say ‘relaxed.’ I’m really not looking at it that way. I just try to play the best I can and the goals have been going for me, so hopefully I can keep it up.