What do the Admirals do without their star netminder?
In the wake of Frederik Andersen sustaining an injury against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Anaheim Ducks have recalled John Gibson from Norfolk. Gibson is more than deserving of the call-up, posting an absurd .935 save percentage, with his last outing being a 36-save shutout against the Worcester Sharks. Andersen and Gibson were pegged as the tandem to start the season for the Ducks before injury changed plans in net throughout the organization.
The Admirals owe a lot to Gibson, who has constantly kept the team in games the past two years. It is especially true this year with a club that is shooting a mere 7.3% as a team, meaning that they are not putting scores on the board. Part of this low number is due to health up front: the team hasn’t had Max Friberg, Chris Wagner, and Emerson Etem all season. Nor has the team had much depth in the prospect pool, with a somewhat disappointing rookie campaign for William Karlsson and Rickard Rakell making his mark in the NHL. Thus, the Ads need a goalie who can keep games close.
Gibson has probably been the best goalie for the Admirals, despite playing in a mere 11 games. Yann Danis also played in 11 games, and posted two shutouts, but had a .914 save percentage. This leaves Jason Labarbera, who has played in more games than any other Admirals goalie. Despite a rough start, LaBarbera has managed to post a very respectable .919 save percentage with Norfolk. LaBarbera ranks 20th in the league in that category, tied with Rob Zepp of the Phantoms and Tampa Bay prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy.
I am not sure if LaBarbera will hold up this weekend against a Syracuse team that currently leads the Eastern Conference. Norfolk must keep the puck away from the Crunch, generate shots, and hope LaBarbera makes timely saves–harder than it sounds, I know. Coming in to backup LaBarbera is Ryan Faragher. The first-year pro out of St. Cloud State has had a couple of very rough outings with the Ads this year. He has progressed with the Utah Grizzlies this season, earning a .908 save percentage and an ECHL Goaltender of the Week award. Right now, he has better performance than Igor Bobkov. This year in Utah, Bobkov has managed a paltry .896 save percentage with the Grizzlies. It would appear that Faragher has surpassed Bobkov, for right now at least, on the depth chart.
John Gibson should be returned to Norfolk when Frederik Andersen is back from injury. In the meantime, the Admirals need to get points. Jason Iacona notes that the Ads are merely six points back of Lehigh Valley. If the Ads can jump the Phantoms, that may spur a playoff push. No matter who’s in net this weekend, they have to score goals.