With his Anaheim Ducks team facing stiff competition for the top seed in the Western Conference, goaltender Jonas Hiller picked a bad weekend to hit a slump. Since the Ducks traded backup Viktor Fasth to the Edmonton Oilers and made Frederik Andersen the full time backup, Hiller has a very mediocre record of 3-5-3.
Hiller’s struggles came to the forefront in two weekend tilts, as the Ducks fell 5-2 at home to Nashville before hitting the road and losing 4-2 in Edmonton on Sunday. The Ducks now sit at 50-20-8 for a total of 108 points. That puts them three points behind the St. Louis Blues in the race for first place in the West. Anaheim also has to be looking down the standings as well, as Colorado and San Jose trail the Ducks by just one point, and a tenacious Chicago Blackhawks team sits three points back of the Ducks as well.
The Ducks need all the points they can get, and that may mean that Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau could turn to highly-regarded John Gibson, who was called up in Andersen’s absence, at some point during Anaheim’s final four games. Boudreau was not incredibly pleased with Hiller’s play and will be carefully evaluating his goaltending situation moving forward, according to Lance Pugmire of the L.A. Times.
“I’ll talk to the coaches and people and we’ll see what we’re doing …,” Boudreau said. “I think [Hiller’s] really lacking in confidence, and once the first one went in, he was worried until he regained his composure.”
While Andersen has played very well for Anaheim this season, Hiller has gotten the majority of the ice time this season, going 29-13-7 in 50 appearances with a 2.47 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage. But if his play continues to slide with playoff seeding on the line, Hiller could see his role diminish.
“Seems like now I can’t get a break, like things find a way to hit me and go in,” Hiller said. “Those bounces happen when you don’t work enough.”
In 45 games played with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL this season, Gibson has a record of 21-17-4 with a 2.34 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage and five shutouts. With Hiller’s struggles and Andersen’s injury, Gibson could solidify his standing in the organization moving forward with a strong showing at the end of this season.
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Around the Rink Assistant Site Manager Joe Ray – @jpray_SK
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[H/T Pro Hockey Talk]