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Gibson Remains Calm, Cool and Collected in the Wake of His Impressive NHL Debut

Tuesday, 04.8.2014 / 1:54 PM PT / News
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Gibson Remains Calm, Cool and Collected in the Wake of His Impressive NHL Debut
“This was just like old hat to him,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau after the game. “If it was me at 20 years old, and I played my first game and scored a goal, I would’ve been smiling from ear to ear. He was just very relaxed. That’s just the way he is.”
By Adam Brady

Never too high, never too low is the ideal temperament for a professional hockey goalie. And it’s one that young John Gibson seems to display on a constant basis.

Despite making his NHL debut last night in Vancouver at the tender age of 20, Gibson was the picture of tranquility as he saved all 18 Canucks shots on his way to a triumphant shutout.

“This was just like old hat to him,” said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau after the game. “If it was me at 20 years old, and I played my first game and scored a goal, I would’ve been smiling from ear to ear. He was just very relaxed. That’s just the way he is.”

Gibson not only blanked the Canucks, but made some history as well. At 20 years and 297 days, he became the youngest NHL goalie since Buffalo's Darren Puppa (Nov. 1 1985 @ EDM, 20 years, 223 days) to record a shutout in his NHL debut. The last NHL goaltender of any age to record a shutout in his NHL debut was Al Montoya (24 years and 47 days) of the Coyotes on April 1, 2009 at Colorado.

Yet a day later back in Anaheim, following an optional practice at Honda Center, Gibson remained his stoic self as he relived the experience.

“It was fun,” deadpanned the Pittsburgh native. “The team played really well in front of me and made my job easier. When there were loose pucks, they threw them away. That helped a lot. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to them.”

Gibson was told by Boudreau on the bus following a loss Sunday night in Edmonton that he would get the start Monday evening. He soon called his parents and his agent, who arranged to have Mom and Dad Gibson flown west to Vancouver watch their son’s debut in person.

“I just wanted to enjoy the experience, and it was nice to have them there last night” Gibson said. “There is only one first game, so I knew it would be a special day and I wanted to enjoy it. I wanted to treat it like any other day, but obviously there is a little more emotion.”

Gibson’s calm demeanor comes partly from a comfort with being on the big stage. Among his extensive international experience was his backstopping Team USA to a gold medal at last year’s IIHF World Junior Championship in Russia, where is put up a 5-0-2 record and was selected Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

“Obviously there are a lot of special guys in here, whether it’s Selanne or Getzlaf or Perry even the younger guys like “Devo” (Devante Smith-Pelly) who I’ve played with for a little while,” Gibson said. “It’s nice to share the experience with all those guys.”

This season, he’s been with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in Norfolk, where he has posted a 21-17-4 record with a 2.34 goals-against average, .919 save percentage and five shutouts. At the time of his recall to fill in for the injured Frederik Andersen, Gibson ranked third among AHL goalies in GAA, seventh in SV%, second in shutouts and sixth in saves.

He said today that his experience helped calm his nerves, but nothing compares to making your debut in the NHL. “It helps a little bit, but at the same time there were still a lot of nerves,” he admitted. “You’ve never played in an NHL game before, and there is nothing really that compares to that.”

Gibson said he was encouraged just before puck drop by a few words from a pretty special teammate – Teemu Selanne. “Before the game, he came down and just said, ‘Good luck and have fun.' I thought that was cool. Just being able to play with him is special.”

Throughout the game, the guys in front of him did everything they could to take the pressure off the rookie, giving Vancouver little room all night and holding the Canucks to just 18 shots. Even with a comfortable 3-0 late in the third, it was apparent the Ducks were doing all they could to secure Gibson’s shutout. And they satisfaction in doing that showed as they enthusiastically congratulated the kid after the horn with hugs and affectionate head-butts.

“Obviously there are a lot of special guys in here, whether it’s Selanne or Getzlaf or Perry even the younger guys like “Devo” (Devante Smith-Pelly) who I’ve played with for a little while,” Gibson said. “It’s nice to share the experience with all those guys.”

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STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 56 36 16 4 158 128 76
2 DAL 53 33 15 5 170 142 71
3 STL 55 30 17 8 132 129 68
4 LAK 51 31 17 3 135 117 65
5 SJS 51 27 20 4 147 138 58
6 NSH 53 25 20 8 136 139 58
7 COL 55 27 24 4 148 152 58
8 ANA 51 25 19 7 113 121 57
9 MIN 52 23 20 9 127 126 55
10 ARI 52 24 22 6 138 161 54
11 VAN 52 20 20 12 120 142 52
12 CGY 51 23 25 3 134 148 49
13 WPG 52 23 26 3 136 150 49
14 EDM 54 21 28 5 132 164 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Perry 51 21 15 -4 36
R. Getzlaf 47 5 31 7 36
R. Rakell 48 11 15 -3 26
R. Kesler 51 11 15 -8 26
S. Vatanen 51 6 18 -2 24
J. Silfverberg 51 6 11 -3 17
C. Stewart 45 7 9 1 16
A. Cogliano 51 5 11 -10 16
H. Lindholm 50 6 8 -5 14
C. Fowler 38 3 9 -11 12
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 10 8 5 .918 2.33
J. Gibson 12 8 2 .917 2.13

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