Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau has this strange ability to watch even his mightiest teams fail in the playoffs.
His 2009-10 high-flying Capitals ousted by a hot goaltender in the first round. His 2010-11 East top-seeded Caps got swept by Tampa in the second round. His Western Conference top-seeded Ducks of last season lost a 3-2 series lead to the Los Angeles Kings and were beat in Game 7.
Whether it’s fair or not Boudreau has the label of a coach who well … just can’t get it done in the playoffs with uber talented teams.
And his current Ducks squad, the group that’s leading the West, is loaded. From a solid 1-2-3 center punch of Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Rickard Rakell, a deep defensive group, and two quality starting goaltenders Anaheim matches up well with everyone. But having too much goaltending could be its undoing.
Before Gibson beat the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday and was announced the starter for that game, the Los Angeles Times asked:
Does that mean the 21-year-old has moved ahead of 30-game-winning goalie Frederik Andersen on Anaheim’s depth chart?
“Don’t draw anything from it,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We’ve got our plan. We’re following our plan. This is part of the plan.”
Asked if he’s comfortable with that plan, Andersen said: “We’ll see. I always want to play more. That’s how it is. We need two goalies ready for the playoffs. With me and Gibby we have a really good chance.
“I don’t feel like I want to mess [the plan] up for him. But I want to make it harder. I want to give him a hard time picking. That’s a good problem to have.”
But it’s one that needs to be figured out by the end of the regular season. There’s this principle that a team needs to pick one starter by the playoffs and use said one starter to win the Stanley Cup. Whether this is completely accurate thinking or not, it has held true a large portion of the time.
And playing goaltender roulette with two guys because of some ‘plan’ can mess with the confidence of one or the other.
In fairness to Boudreau, it’s not like one guy has totally outplayed the other. The 21-year-old Gibson has won three games in a row and given up just five scores in those contests – all wins against the Wild, Predators and Kings.
Andersen has 30 wins, was Anaheim’s starter for almost the whole year, and has a 2.37 goals against average and .915 save percentage.
Boudreau is right, it’s a good problem to have. For now anyway. But with the Ducks firmly in the playoffs, it’s time to just pick one and let it ride. Goaltenders are different breeds anyway, and playing mind games with them? Oye.
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